The First Concrete Jungle
The American Dream
New York City has always been known as the “melting pot” city. In the early 1600s, European settlers began to stake their claim on the land that would later become New York. After the end of the Revolutionary War, immigrants began to arrive in droves– Irish, Jewish, German, Russian, Greek, and Italian citizens began to flood into this port town and instill new cultures into the city. Over time, Puerto Rican and Chinese immigrants also started to trickle in, further broadening the range of citizens in this great, big city. New York is still a highly diverse city, with nearly 40% of citizens hailing from different nations.
Navigating Multi-Cultural Cuisine
Citizens of a port town, New Yorkers tend to serve plenty of seafood, including oysters, lobster, and clams. Such a healthy production of these popular ingredients has led to highly popular recipes being born in New York, such as Clam Chowder and Lobster Newburg. New York is also infamous for their steakhouses, one of which popularized the New York strip steak, the topmost section of sirloin, in the 1820’s.
You might have heard about the eternal debate– thin crust or thick crust? While the midwestern portion of the US swears by thicker, breadier pizza crusts, you would be remiss to order deep dish in New York. Hand-tossed and baked in a coal-fired oven, thin crust pizza is almost law in this city filled with Italian-Americans. With a gluten-heavy bread flour and (allegedly) mineral-rich New York City tap water, this city has been distributing delicious “New York Style” pizzas for ages. You can find another New York staple scattered throughout the city, served from street stands or small hole-in-the-wall counter-service restaraunts. Hot Dogs in New York are served with saurkraut, sweet relish, onion sauce, or mustard– no ketchup.
With so many diverse people, it’s no surprise that the various ethnic groups in the city have contributed greatly to their cuisine. For example, the bagel (everyones favorite quick breakfast staple) was first popularized in the New York Jewish community in the early 1900s, and quickly gained notoriety. Also renowned is the Sino-Latino cuisine, associated with the influx of Chinese Cuban immigrants post Cuban Revolution. Fried rice, egg drop soup, sesame chicken, and other famus dishes made their way to the United States through this strong group of immigrants. With such a wide variety of ethnicities in New York, it’s hard to go a few blocks without seeing varying influences of these cuisines.
Often, New York is dismissed as a bustling, bumbling, and befuddling city. Everyone seems like they’re in such a hurry to get somewhere. Well, maybe they are. It’s possible they’re even in a hurry to get to those 7 o’clock dinner reservations at one of many restaurants in the city.
If there’s one thing this city likes to do, it’s eat. There are over 23,650 restaurants in New York City– the most per capita out of anywhere else in the United States. Apparently, if you were to try to eat at every single New York City restaurant, it would take you over 20 years. In this culinary hotspot, it seems like more inhabitants go out to eat than they cook at home– a matter of convenience more than the skills of each individual chef. With high prices on most groceries, it’s actually cheaper for city-folk to eat out rather than gather ingredients and get cooking. That being said, with such a diverse range of cultures and cuisines, it’s unlikely that the everage foodie would get bored of the take-out in a city like this.