Some weeks into Spring, and mine in NYC are nearly always horrible. This year, I’ve managed to avoid hacking up a pollen-encrusted lung or getting frozen by an untimely slush rain. In return, the unseasonable weather has produced some truly breathtaking scenery, as evidenced by my thousand-word stand-ins. The foilage appears to be racing each other in a breakneck pace to make up for March’s desolate frosts.
I’ve also taken advantage of the season by revisiting some of my old haunts. Grey’s Papaya seems to be popping up wherever I go this month, and I’ve been enjoying their recession special quite often (2 hot dogs and a drink for 5 bucks). Evidently, they don’t believe the President’s word our economy is slowly recovering. Fellow New Yorkers: have the dogs improved? I remember them being not much better than the cart dishwater dogs, but the ones I had recently were lovingly caramelized and tasted like the Coney’s own all-beef classics. I’ll say it for Grey’s, I can always count on those guys for a refreshing papaya juice or coconut champange, even though I’m always hankering for a bigger cup. The fizzy, creamy taste with its teensy bits of coconut meat gets my cylinders firing in the afternoon. Btw, tried making papaya juice at home, and it had a gimpy, astringent taste. Don’t know why, but Grey’s knows how to do it right.
Another great activity for Spring? Staying out without furry protection. My foray was tainted slightly by a pitstop at the KFC’s near Bryant Park. Their pot pie gave me the Colonel’s own landslide victory, if you know what I mean. I should have known the bits of fried chicken in the pie were too good to be true; their staff was absolutely horrid, as well, at first ignoring me completely, then taking my order at a snail’s pace. The man I assumed to be a manager, in a collared shirt, looked on as he mopped the floor, not directing anyone to help. Very unprofessional, definitely not going there again. It’s a shame, for even as a culinary professional, the taste of the eleven spices is kind of a childhood addiction.
I guess what this whole affair reminded me of is something New York holds dear: you’ve got to live here to know where’s safe to eat. At first glance, the old G’sP looks greasy and undignified with its stand-up eating and self-serve condiments, but it’s some of the most wholesome food in the entire city, at very agreeable prices. In contrast, the American tourist standby KFC’s, or any fast food chain in the city, are very likely to betray you and send you hobbling towards the nearest convenience. NYC keeps her own, folks. Hoping Spring will bring more toothsome eats. Stay hungry everybody!