Saturday, January 19, 2013

Foodie Meets Mommy


I heart New York City cupcakes
I'm a New Yorker. It took me awhile to say it, since I'm a transplant from Kansas. But after 20 years, I have more in common with cabbies than corn fields. 

In my opinion, to consider yourself a true New Yorker, you need to be a bit versed in its restaurant scene. Food culture is huge in New York City. You will have a better conversation with a New Yorker by asking him or her "Have you eaten at (fill in the blank with a restaurant)?" than "What do you do?" 

Restaurants with celebrity chefs are a dime a dozen in New York City. Sure, I can boast that I ate at Momofuku years before I witnessed Martha Stewart standing outside on First Ave. waiting for a table. But George and I aren't made of money. Restaurants with four or five dollar signs next to their name in Zagat's are special treats. To be sure, though, I would rather save my money for a meal at a Danny Meyer establishment than spend it on the latest fashion trends. 

Martha Stewart and David Chang
Martha Stewart (duh!) and David Chang, chef at Momofuku

For me, the bigger adventures in New York are finding the hole in the wall joints with cheap eats and international fare. Take a sublime and steamy bowl of miso ramen from Rai Rai Ken in the East Village. They don't have tables, so you sit at the counter and watch them cook your food -- part restaurant, part experience. Then, there's the Romanian Gardens in Sunnyside, Queens, that serves creamy polenta with sour cream and eggplant spread that takes rustic to a whole new level. 

In case you're wondering, I'm not turning Tao of Poop into a food blog (I should hope not, given its title). It's just taken me awhile to get to my usual mom bit. I needed to reminisce, to get my food adventures out of my system. 

Here comes the mom part: my priorities in food have changed since becoming a mom. I will sum it up in one word…"Chevy's". We went on a family outing to Chevy's yesterday.  I can now add another new food experience to my time in New York City -- eating at a chain. 

Chevy's restaurant Times Square
Chevy's Times Square, NYC

Before you start thinking that New Yorker are food snobs (well, a little), it's not that chains are beneath us. It's that why eat at a chain restaurant, when you can try something new and exotic for just as cheap? Why put up with New York City's dirt, loudness and incivility, if you're not enjoying what makes it unique? I could go straight to the source for a Mamoun's Falafel on St. Marks or go to Vanessa's Dumpling House in Chinatown for fried sesame bread with beef or tuna (oops, I'm talking about the glory days again).

But my priorities in food have changed. Instead of the white tablecloths and fine china of a Mario Batali restaurant, we need a high chair and plates that will withstand being tossed like frisbees. It's no longer cool to rub elbows with the downtown scene in a cramped and loud restaurant. We look for comfortable and spacious booths with wide swaths of real estate to contain my child while giving her ample room to do the toddler spread. We put a premium on durable, plastic surfaces that can withstand artwork made of food smears and flatware used as musical instruments. No more leisurely tastings; we seek out short order cooks and the bill presented before our fork and knife are crossed on an empty plate. Forget the hour long ride to Queens on the seven train; we choose close and convenient.

Indeed, yesterday, Chevy's satisfied on all of these accounts. It was a perfect lunch. We will be back again. 

I'm reminded that I'm not just a New Yorker anymore. I'm a New Yorker who's a mom. That makes New York City a new world, and me a different person in it. At least, it didn't take me 20 years to admit it. 

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42 comments:

  1. Hi Rachel! You've been nominated for the Box of Chocolates Blog Award! Please visit this link for the rules and my questions for you :)

    http://tantrumsandteaparties.blogspot.ca/2013/01/chocolate-with-hazelnuts.html

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    1. Very honored, Justine! I love me a box of chocolates (award).

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  2. I've been to that Chevy's... Christmas 2009! I love the little hole in the wall joints!

    xoxo
    Lanaya
    www.raising-Reagan.com

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    1. Ooooo! Maybe that's why I enjoyed myself so much. I felt your lovely vibe!

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  3. Hi Rachel - I know what you mean about chain restaurants! We live in a small suburb and I really miss the unique restaurants that a big city has! Have a great weekend!

    www.mendezmanor.com

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    1. I know it's getting better in the burbs. But NYC just plain rocks for food.

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  4. I'm hungry now just reading this! I think it's time I get up north for a foodie visit!

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    1. Come on up! Take the train! Would love to take you on a food tour (not to Chevy's).

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  5. When I lived in NYC, I loved the "hole in the wall" scene! I can't tell you any of the names (it's been over 30 years), but I always found them to offer better food and try so much harder than any of the chain restaurant offerings. When I've visited, I always ask store clerks for recommendations, and have only once been disappointed. Great post!

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    1. It's a great idea to ask store clerks for recommendations. If I ever see cabbies lined up outside, I know it's a place for me.

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  6. Going from Kansas to New York must have been culture shock, but I love how one can eat any kind of food in NYC. For cheap? That I question. Today, I bought a huge all beef hot dog and a 20 oz. refillable Diet Coke for lunch. $1.50. Can you do that in New York? I bet you can't even get the Coke for that cheap.

    On the other hand, you can wrap cultural circles around my little nothing town, and you always have something to do there. I love NY but couldn't afford to live there.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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    1. 1) Two slices of pizza and a can of soda for $2.50
      2) Falafel $3.00
      3) Beef on fried sesame bread $2.25

      I know it's an extra buck or so. Whad'ya think?

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  7. Hola Rachel!
    It's always so pleasant to read your posts, wanted to thank you for that. Do you know that I've never visited New York and I have a sister that lives there?! She's the one that usually visits, but I think I'm gonna have to change that! Thanks for linking up, I look forward to next week's reading!

    ~SimplyyMayra ;)

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    1. Thanks, Mayra. I feel the same way reading your weekly inspiration!...You must come up! Drop me a line...

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  8. Hello!!,!
    I will be in New York City in 9 weeks time! I'm from Australia and I am very excited about my trip!
    This was a fabulous post to read! Will have to check some of these out! Thank you!

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  9. Hi from Mingle Monday! I went to NYC for the first time last spring, and even since I came home I've been DYING to go back. Next time I go - I'm coming to you for places to eat!

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  10. Visiting from Mingle Monday! I love the city. Pax is one of my favorites! I hope you have a great day!

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  11. What an enjoyable post! I loved reading it, and it made me hungry! I have to say the best Pad Thai I have ever had I got on some tiny place in the village I could never find again if I tried... delicious coconut soup too. I need to go back to NYC someday soon. You nailed it though with the different things you need with toddlers. Will and I very rarely brave any type of place where crayons aren't provided. I figure if you give us crayon and a paper placemat you won't care too much about the food on the floor and the possible hissy fit. Thanks for linking up!

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  12. Love it! You know we moved out East almost 3 years ago and still haven't gone the couple hours up the city-- we've gone every other direction, just not up!! :)
    I'm excited to explore it, now, though:) What a fun post!

    I really liked reading your past posts and am glad I found you on the blog hop.... here's hoping you'll stop by and say hey sometime. :)

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  13. What a fun blog you have! I love those cupcakes! We are your newest followers from A Lovely Blog Hop! HAve a fabulous weekend!

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  14. I love visiting NYC - My Dad was from Brooklyn and I have so many cousins there I can't count them. Then my eldest soon went to AADA so we had a blast visiting when he graduated. Then he moved to LA. Our eldest daughter was in SF but recently moved to Williamsburg. She got a job with foursquare.com - So, now another wonderful reason to visit! And I agree with you 100% - the "hole in the wall" places are usually the best ever :) As for a geriatric mom? What the heck does that mean? Oh my word! Have a blessed day! http://thejoyfulservant.com

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  15. Sitting at the counter and watching them cook your food is awesome! It's true, when you have kids, you have to pick family friendly restaurants.

    Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog!

    Tina - Amanda's Books and More
    http://abooksandmore.blogspot.com

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  16. I've only been to NYC twice, but I'm in love. I would come in a heartbeat if my husband would follow along. Stopping by from H54F.

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  17. hello new follower from the hop ^^

    mind to follow back? :)
    Rossy♥
    Me, MySelf and I

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  18. Makes me sooo jealous! I live in such a small town that fast food chain restaurants are pretty much all we have. We've got to travel a good hour away to anything even remotely upscale. I don't want you to turn into a food blogger...but I certainly don't mind if you reminisce every once in a while about the cool, hole in the wall places to eat in New York =)

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  19. Next time I'm in NYC, I'll check out that restaurant. I've been thinking about bringing my kids up via the Bolt Bus (think cheap) for a day in New York.

    For the record, yes, when you're a mom bringing kids along to a restaurant, you do want things to go as quickly and smoothly as possible. So less stressful!

    Thanks for linking up to Motivation Monday.

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  20. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things hop xo

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  21. I just got back from NY and in town for a wedding. Anyway, I had to visit my favorite bakery and pizza place. I'm from Chicago and I like thin crust pizza. I love Grimaldi's near the Brooklyn bridge and I heart Magnolia Bakery. No kids but I like local gems and fancy restaurants also.

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  22. Blog hopping - as a native New Yorker I enjoyed your post.

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  23. I've never been to NYC and I feel like I haven't been really living!
    Newest follower from the blog hop - love for you to follow me back so we can get to know each other better!
    Kaylynn
    colbkayandtrae.blogspot.com

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  24. Oh you made me laugh when you said.... "I'm not turning Tao of Poop into a food blog (I should hope not, given its title). " So funny! anywho, part of me would love to do the whole NYC experience, but coming from small town USA & being slightly claustrophobic and a little paranoid, then I don't think I would actually enjoy the hustle of such a large city. That being said, I do love reading about other people's fun such as yours. How marvelous! I think it's grand you include your sweet wee one in the mix. We aren't frequent diners, but when ours were small we would take them with us and it made it all the more fun. Loved your post!

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  25. Loved it! So glad you pointed me towards this post or I may have missed it! My husband and I are going away for three days to Estes Park and of all the things I am looking forward to, three fantastic restaurants with NO CHILDREN is at the top of the list. An actual culinary experience. NO CHAINS. :) For once... They definitely have a purpose when you have kids!

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  26. I loved this post! I am from the UK, I've never ever been abroad and I am desperate to go to New York. I have the canvas prints on my bedroom walls, and that's the closest I am going to get to it for the forseeable future! I also love food and it is something that would have formed a huge part of my trip. My husband and I were going to go for his 50th, we'd saved the money and had my parents booked in to babysit but when it came to it, I wouldn't have been able to leave the children for that long. So - for a few more years at least, I'll have to keep on dreaming!

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  27. I love New York! I've been there twice! But I still didn't get a real taste of it's restaurants. Next time for sure!

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  28. Okay I'm getting over the stomach flu and you've managed to make my mouth water! I love NYC and the food! I'm going to have to bookmark this post so I know some places to try the next time I get back there!!!

    Lisa

    P.S. Thanks for linking up to this past weekend's GtKY Blog Hop! Both of us are sick so we're a little behind with our visits. :)

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  29. NY is on the top of my list of holiday destinations. How wonderful to spend time hunting out foodie goodness in unexpected places!

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