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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Foods And Drinks That Originated In Or Are Associated With New York Part 1

For Part 2

New York, especially downstate (the five boroughs and Long Island) is known for it's amazing foods many of which originated and/or are specifically associated with New York. The vast diversity of the area has brought the most delicious cuisine.

The Reuben Sandwich  - The Reuben was first made in 1914 by Arnold Reuben while working in a delicatessen on Broadway.  He first prepared the delicious sandwich for a theater actress. The sandwich consists of two slices of rye bread, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, corned beef and Russian dressing grilled similar to a grilled cheese.  Best place to try one in New York City is Eisenberg's Sandwich Shop, in operation since 1929!

Eggs Benedict -  So the story goes, a man named Lemuel Benedict ordered buttered toast with bacon, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce to cure a hangover.  This supposedly took place at the Waldorf hotel in New York City.  The Chef was impressed, however, he made a few changes, using muffins rather than toast and ham rather than bacon.

The second version - A regular patron of the first restaurant in the United States, Delmonico's Restaurant, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, wanted something new and different for lunch.  She had a discussion with the Chef, Charles Ranhofer.  He made her the dish now known as Eggs Benedict.

Lobster Newburg - speaking of Delmonic's; it is also credited with another famous dish.  It was named after sea captain Ben Wenberg who supposedly introduced a new idea for the preparation of lobster to Charles Delmonico.  The dish is a Maine lobster in a cream sauce with butter, cognac and Cayenne pepper.

Waldorf Salad - created at New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in 1896, the salad is made from apples, celery, walnuts and mayonnaise over lettuce.  It was invented by maitre d'hotel, Oscar Trschirky, not the executive chef.

Spaghetti and Meatballs - most think it's a traditional dish from Italy.  Not so.  It was invented, or rather the spaghetti and the meatballs were served together, by two Italian immigrants in Little Italy in New York City back in the late 1800's/early 1900's, so the story goes.

Most immigrants settled in Brooklyn in neighborhoods with people "like them", hence you had what was known as "sections".  There was the "Italian section", "Polish section", "Jewish section" and on and on.  These "sections" were close to one another. The people loved to try the ethnic foods of their neighbors.

My Great Grandmother, known as Grandma Grandma - she lived to be over 100.  She never learned English.  This was my mom's paternal grandmother.  
My grandparents and parents were all born in Brooklyn.  I am 100% Italian descent, however, my children and my siblings' children are not.  Just as the people "mixed", so did their foods.

A New York Johnny Pump (fire hydrant) 
Many of the different ethnic foods became popular all over New York and are now associated with the state. Years ago there was a commercial on television with the line "a bagel, what's a bagel?" At the time, bagels were not popular around the country.

New York is known for it's delicious breads, bagels and pizzas.  Living here, these items were common.  The first time I traveled down south, I was about 20 years old, I asked for a bagel at breakfast.  The waitress looked at me and said, "a bagel, what's a bagel?"  I laughed, thinking she was joking.  She wasn't.  She really didn't know. Needless to say, I didn't get a bagel,

On that same trip, I was perplexed for several days wondering why every afternoon and evening I was being offered a lollipop! Everyone kept asking me if I wanted a pop!  I kept saying no.  I finally realized they were offering me soda.

A knish!  As I state in the video above, made several years back in Port Jefferson, New York, most people outside of New York do not know what a knish is.  Visit Gabila's for all things knish!

Ravioli.  A few years ago I watched a group of people online spend a few hours trying to figure out what the picture above was.  I thought, "who doesn't recognize ravioli!"  It seems in other states, it's not common.  New York has a huge Italian population.  Italian cuisine is very recognizable here.

Dirty Water Dog.  What's a dirty water dog?  It's a hot dog from a street vendor in New York City. Above is a video about the history of dirty water dogs.  Back in the 1970's, my grandfather owned a hot dog truck on Long Island.  Nothing beat Grandpa's "dirty water dogs".

New York Style Pizza.  Gennaro Lombardi owned the first pizzeria in America which he founded in 1905 in New York City's Little Italy.  New York pizza is known for it's thin crust and the ability to fold slices in half. Pizza is to be eaten with your hands.  Today there's a pizzeria on every corner. There is a theory that the reason pizza tastes so delicious downstate New York is due to the water.  

Bagels - "A bagel, what's a bagel?"  I couldn't resist. Bagels arrived in America, mainly New York City, with the arrival of Polish, Jewish immigrants.  One of the largest and most powerful unions controlled the bagel industry for decades; Bagel Bakers Local 338.  The union lost power when bagels started being mass produced in the 1960's with machinery in factories.  Prior to that, bagels were made by Jewish bakers by hand and all the workers who belonged to the union were Jewish. 

When New Yorkers travel or move from New York, the first thing you hear them say is,  "I can't wait for good food, I want a breakfast sandwich, a bagel, a slice of pizza and a good beer!"  We are spoiled here. 

Almost all the foods mentioned can be made or purchased gluten free.  More and more restaurants and manufacturers are making gluten free options available.  

You can even make your own "dirty water dogs" just be careful of the products you purchase.  As advised in a recent article, be sure to read all labels and contact manufacturers.    

A Few Links - Where to Purchase:  

Bare Naked Bakery And Cafe


11 Best Gluten Free Restaurants in NYC

For Part 2

Please leave a comment about foods and drinks associated with your neck of the woods.  

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