When kath is blogging

Bacons, eggs, hash browns and a pair of chopsticks. -Part 2

Posted in Food by Katharine on March 19, 2009

(continued form part 1)

When my relatives knows that I was going to New York on my own, their reactions were mostly : “can you cook?” I wasn’t a great cook, but at least I helped out in the kitchen. My first home was the school’s dormitory, sharing a room with 3 other girls with no kitchen. Great… all we had was a cafeteria at the basement of the building. You enrolled in a meal plan, and swiped your meal plan card when you purchased anything there.

When I first moved in, it was during the winter break and the cafeteria wasn’t opened yet. So after I made my bed and cleaned my closet, I walked around and to check out the neighbourhood. There were some nice little french and Italian restaurant around, but I felt weird to be there dining alone, besides, I was on a budget. There was Cozi and Chipotle, but then I didn’t know what to expect there. I wanted something more familiar, instead of starting out my life in New York like an idiot don’t know what or how to order my food… However I passed the McDonald’s on west 8th and 6ave.

I ended up standing in front of Go-sushi, A fast food restaurant that serve Japanese noodles. The menu looked simple enough to handle, if i couldn’t, I could just pick up a pack of pre-made sushi and go. But I wanted something hot, it was snowing, so I got myself a bowl of udon and beef. It was certainly not the greatest udon, but that’s the first thing I ate in New York, Japanese udon.

Few days later, the cafeteria opened up. pretty much nothing was labeled. I was really shy to walk up to the line for hot food, to stand there not knowing how to order as I didn’t know their name, and I wasn’t interested in having tons of people waiting behind me, when I was trying to figure it out… So what I usually got was a bowl of pre-made salad, no sauce (again, that’s because I didn’t know what sauce are there, but then I grew to love those salad without sauce).

Eventually, I started to know how to order some scamble eggs, chicken nuggets, hash browns, lasagna…… starting out by the same line, “can I have some of these? and how do you call it?” After a few times, getting used to how things work there, I started to order what ever they had on menu, trying new food, with a bottle of Snapple. Diet Snapple was something I drank a lot at school. The only reason was that, besides Snapple there were only soft drinks and Dasani at the cafeteria and I didn’t like soft drink that much. Then I started to love those little “facts” on those Snapple’s cap.

After one semester I moved out to an apartment with two friends in the hell’s kitchen. There were so many nice little restaurants around. I was surprised that it was easier to get fed then to get a bandaid. My roomates ordered their food most of the time, or microwaved food that their parents made. I didn’t have anyone to prepare food for me. So I started to shop at grocery store myself. There was a Food Emporium, and D’Agostino a few blocks away, I bought my meat and veggie there, then I googled and found a Chinese supermarket in Chinatown, bought a bag of rice and some asian sauce.

I started to recreate what my sister would cook, and then developed some different variation (and for some reason, the spicy broth with bean curd didn’t work out). Some chicken, some sausages, an egg, some rice and 1 table spoon of soy sauce, I got myself some fried rice. It didn’t taste like my mother’s fried rice, but it was satisfying. The next time, I added some lettuce in it. The third time, I added some ginger (learned form a Japanese restaurant in California, their fried rice had a hint of ginger in it). Then when I’m lazy to make all those I’d just boil 8 Chinese pork dumplings in chicken broth with tons of pepper in it, which also felt great when I was having a cold in the winter.

I walked to school every morning, a 25 mins walk. At the beginning I just enjoyed walking on Broadway, through all those theaters and billboards. It was such an experience to walk through Broadway to school everyday. However, I wanted to try something different sometimes, and I’d walk down through 9th avenue. It’s there I found a nice little french-looking bakery. It was very tiny inside, and I never get the chance to sit there and have a big cup of coffee by myself. I always ordered take out there and brought it back to school as breakfast, usually a rosemary twist and a chocolate twist.

Apart from the bakery, I sometimes got the sausage muffin with egg with hash brown and orange juice from McDonald’s or breakfast in buffet style at the New Star Cafe right next to my school. All I got would be hash brown, ham and eggs. Breakfast in this western style was very new to me, and I just get to love that comforting feeling naturally. When I was in Hong Kong, most of my breakfast was just like a chinese bun with sausage in it, or congee and noodles on the weekend.

Around lunch time, I’d either pick up buffet food (cost me only $4.50 to feed myself), or walked for another block to get panini at cafe metro, or the rather expensive but makes-you-feel-healthy Pret-a-manger. When everyone around me was talking about pret, I tried it out. Sandwich with brie, tomatoe and basil was my favorite. For salade, there I always loved the winter salad with honey dijon dressing. The taste of cranberry mixed with salad was just new and exciting to me.

Occasionally, I also walked down another block to get Ginger’s, when I craved for that spicy tofu with rice or their double cooked bacon or spicy chicken in basil sauce. The restaurant was actually one of the nicer Chinese restaurant in New York, and it was here that I got to know Chinese food in american style. I started to understand why everyone would associate Chinese food as the greasy food. I never really know why, as my mom doesn’t cook with more than 2 tea spoons of oil, dim sum can be a bit greasy, but not when you always get the steamed items. However, there I was, eating those tofu soaked with spicy sauce with a layer of oil on top. It was a taste of heaven with guilt. When I’m in a chinese restaurant, I liked to order things I couldn’t make at home, such as those greasy but tasty sauce that my tofu or chicken were coated with. Most of the time I could on eat half of it, and I brought the other half back home as dinner.

One day, my classmate also introduced me to Aceluck, a thai restaurant 10 mins walk from my school. They offered the spiciest basil fried rice with beef I’ve ever tried, if you asked them to make it extra spicy. I always went back there since then. Eventually I started to sample some side dishes there. One of my favorite was these fusion wrap with duck and sweet duck sauce in it, the other one was the thai spring roll.

This is how my diet was like during my school year, and it changed for the better, when I finished school and have a job downtown.

-End of Part II-

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One Response

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  1. gabe said, on March 19, 2009 at 8:24 am

    aceluck… yum.


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