Archives for category: Food
What I got!

My buy: a porcelain mould for making rubber gloves, now a slightly creepy jewellery storage device

One of the things I’ll miss most about living here? The Brooklyn Flea, which used to be right downstairs but now has an excellent new plot in Williamsburg with views of the Empire State.

Also! Great shopping. Which leads me to my friend Kate Payne’s little shopapalooza, the Brooklyn Flea Spree, in honour of her excellent new book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking – in which I was one of the bloggers tasked with finding something fab for $25. You like? If so, please vote!

I’m in good company here, people – the other bloggers are Mouth of the Border, Fucked in Park Slope, Brokelyn and Autumn Makes and Does. So I need all the help I can get…

And here's the book!

And here's the book!

Silver box, with crystal beads inside that I might make into something else. Bought this too

Silver box, with crystal beads inside that I might make into something else. Bought this too

Porchetta roll. Not homewares, but I could have had five for the same money

Porchetta roll. Not homewares, but I could have had five for the same money

Very cool terrarium from Twig, complete with mini sheep. Outside my budget, sadly

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Yup, we did those. Quite chuffed too.

Americans love a holiday – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day – any excuse to buy decorations. (Yes, Mother’s Day and Halloween aren’t actually holidays, but that’s just another difference in our mutual language – if you mean holiday, you say vacation.)

This weekend, an entire houseful of grown-ups dipped boiled eggs (and our fingers) in dye and had a thoroughly good time. I can’t say I remember decorating eggs since the age of six, and I can’t imagine anyone I know doing it back home, but the American enthusiasm for tradition knows no bounds. The Brit in me wonders if it’s because they have such a short history; the expat thinks it’s great.

A Rod takes a swing (thats Madonnas steroid-loving former squeeze to you)

A Rod takes a swing (that's Madonna's steroid-loving former squeeze to you)

This week, we went to see the New York Yankees play, er, no wait it’s coming to me, the Tampa Bay… Rays. Anyway, off we go on the B train all the way up the enormous new stadium in the Bronx, and here’s me expecting to find tons of material for this blog, but what do I get? Almost no surprises at all.

Because if you’ve seen any American telly or movies at all, hardly any of it comes as news. From Sex and the City, I know it’s all about drinking beer rather than watching a game. From Seinfeld and When Harry Met Sally, I know about the hot dog and popcorn sellers who come to your seat. And from every baseball movie I ever watched as a kid (Major League, Field of Dreams and that one with Susan Sarandon), I remember the little organ jingles they play when you’re sitting around waiting for something, anything, to happen.

(Not being a big sports fan, I wasn’t prepared for everyone to stand up at the beginning, Yankee cap on heart, and sing the national anthem. I stood, out of peer pressure, but self-consciously put my hands in my pockets, out of Britishness.)

One surreal ritual I didn’t know about? At one point during the game, when the guys come out to rake the grit smooth, the sound system chirps up with YMCA, and at each chorus, the rakers pause to do the dance. And everyone loves it. They also love the big screen instructions to clap in time to other bits of music, and no one seems to mind the unending advertising in every pause in the game. When you stop noticing the ads, it’s all over, right?

This is the counter in Rite Aid, a chain-store chemist:

The width of this lady is not coincidental

The width of this lady is not coincidental

Keen-eyed readers will note several interesting details:

1. The large selection of sweets available to purchase on the spur of the moment.

2. The cigarettes.

3. The slightly obscured sign for the ‘No Smoking Center’, right next to the cigarettes. Here, you can choose from a large selection of nicotine patches and gum, if you’ve managed to resist the fags. (To the left of the Non Smoking Center, you can also buy pipes, loose tobacco and various other smoking paraphenalia.)

4. The fact that the lady is buying Haagen Dasz.

5. The fact that this is a chemist. In a country with a mysteriously high percentage of very fat, unhealthy people.

Discuss.

In most parts of the world, the moment when someone asks you for directions is the moment when you you know you’ve assimilated.

In New York, particularly in Brooklyn, it’s when someone stops you in the street and asks, ‘Are You Jewish?’ This week is Passover, or Pesach. My first clue to that was when I was working on the checkout in the Coop, and scanned a pack of kosher Philadelphia Cream Cheese specially made for the holiday.

This is also the season when New Yorkers, Jewish and otherwise, go on their annual hunt for kosher Coke hunts. Normally it’s made with that lovely invention, high fructose corn syrup, but right now, you can buy it made the old fashioned way, with honest to goodness sugar. It’s the real thing. Apparently.

Anyway, so right now, as well as buying up kosher Coke and cream cheese, Brooklyn’s Jewish population is also looking for lapsed Jews. They stop you in the street to see if they can talk you back into the fold, and in some circles, they’ll even have you if you’re not properly Jewish, eg if your mother isn’t, but your father is, or your father’s mother. According to that, if you go back far enough, they can count me in, and my boyfriend, and quite a lot of other people I know.

By which count, we really must be New Yorkers now. Now all I need is a therapist.

Unless your name is Vanessa, I doubt it:

Chinese takeaway really does come in the cute little boxes you see in the movies!

Chinese takeaway really does come in the cute little boxes you see in the movies!

And yes, some of the won ton sauce ended up on the shirt.

The Park Slope Food Coop

The Park Slope Food Coop

No stint living in Brooklyn is complete without a membership of the Park Slope Food Coop. If only for the comedy hats.

Est 1973 by a bunch of hippies, it’s a members’ only supermarket, where all members have to work 2 hours and 45 minutes once a month. That means they can keep costs low so the food is cheap, and as you’d imagine, membership has surged massively lately.

It’s simultaneously a total shambles and a brilliant idea. The food is much cheaper and better than most supermarkets here, but no one knows what’s going on because only about 50 people actually work there full time, so your chances of finding what you need where it’s supposed to be are slim. Everything is decided by popular vote, which means that in the 90s, the original hippies’ decision to only stock healthy things was thankfully overturned and they now sell beer and chocolate.

Yes really, you can buy them in bulk

Yes really, you can buy them in bulk

Because of where it is, in one of the nicest neighbourhoods in New York City, the checkout is staffed by off-duty architects, economists, television writers, poets, non-profit policy makers and, well, me. Seriously, that’s just a selection of people I’ve met there. Yesterday, I did a shift in the membership office, and the person sitting next to me was a philosopher.

And every time you go in, there is material galore for stand-up comedians: the noticeboard on the stairs, the bizarre hand-knitted clothing, the five-foot-long conical hats… And then there is the tannoy, used by everyone (because everyone works there). I once heard someone ask whether the pork was on its way up to the shop floor, and the reply, ‘Yep, it’s coming – wait there, I want to see the meat in your hand.’ I looked around, and I was the only one smirking.

From the Park Slope Food Coop noticeboard

From the Park Slope Food Coop noticeboard