Chinatown’s culinary democracy

by Liz on October 11, 2011

in Food

    Fresh rambutans on Canal Street

    UPDATE: The Itinerary I mention below is now available on UnAnchor.com! Check it our here.

    Recently in New York there’s been an ongoing movement to nosh on ethnic foods, edible delights that shouldn’t just taste good but also be as authentic as possible. Almost every other week we hear of an insider’s tour of Jackson Heights, or a Flushing Food Tour that will leave all stomachs happily full and sated. The best part of eating ethnic, and particularly Chinese, is that it is very kind on the wallet, which given the economic mood of today, is probably the biggest draw of a dumpling that’s Made In Flushing or a red bean bun at a Chinatown bakery.

    Financial considerations aside, I would gladly eat at some of my favorite Chinatown restaurants any day. It’s just too good to pass up, which is why I’m also working on an itinerary that will help visitors eat like a local and really enjoy the Asian quarters of New York.

    The foods eaten in the Chinatowns here represent something of a culinary democracy. Every color, shape and size is completely represented, and no ingredient that’s natural or good is spared.

    So I’ve been pounding the pavement looking for wonderful food and gathering information. What I’ve learned along the way about Asian food, and Chinese cuisine in particular, has been a revelation. The foods eaten in the Chinatowns here represent something of a culinary democracy. Every color, shape and size is completely represented, and no ingredient that’s natural or good is spared. And while it’s something of a truism that actual, political democracy is a faraway reality in China and will remain a bone of contention, I can’t help but turn my attention to a different kind of democracy, one that’s been around in Asian culture for thousands of years, and revolves around food, life’s most important necessity. The best part of Chinese culinary democracy is not just all-out representation of textures and colors, either. It is for me, as it is for others, food that’s economically accessible to almost anyone with a dollar to spare.

    And that to me sounds like true democracy: simple, beautiful, delicious and available to all.

    Bánh cuốn at Thái Son (89 Baxter Street)

    Dumplings with chili oil at White Bear (135-02 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing)

    Fried chicken drumsticks at LIRR Food Stall, Flushing

    Almond cookie ice cream at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (65 Bayard St)

    Ten Ren Tea (135-18 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing)

  • HYoO

    The pictures are amazing! I’ve got to try the dumplings… Yum.

    • Liz

      Thanks Hana! Flushing has the best dumplings. Let me know if you’re up for it sometime.

  • Tram

    Hey Liz, can’t wait for the itinerary for NY visitors to eat like locals! Viv told me about your venture into the blogging world. This site is great. More food and travel please 🙂

    • Liz

      Hi Tram! Thanks for visiting. Haven’t seen you in a while. Send me an email if you’re ever in NY. Just use the contact form and I’ll get back to you. 🙂

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