Fish bao from Baohaus in the East Village
In my last post, I pointed out how much food can vary just within a region. This weekend I made a quick trip to New York City, where this point was put into strong focus–arguably nowhere in the world are there so many different types of food, people and cultures in such a small area. They say that in NY you could eat out three meals a day at a new restaurant every time and never have to visit the same restaurant twice during your lifetime. The number of options is unbelievable, and what’s even crazier is that all the restaurants seem to be full all of the time. My first question was don’t these people have real things to do besides socialize and eat? My second question was, where do I begin? My typical go tos for finding a good place to eat like urbanspoon or yelp are no help, because it’s not a matter of sorting the good from the bad. In NY, everything is good, because if you’re not serving good food you can’t compete with everyone around you who is. All of the sudden a whole new set of factors comes into play: how close the place is, what the price point is, whether you’ll be able to get a table. It was very apparent that the way people get their food in a city this size is different than most places. Luckily my friend was a great local guide who encouraged us to look past the usual fare. Instead of $1 pizza slices and hot dogs, we tried some food that I had never heard of before. My favorite: bao. Bao, or baozi is a steamed, bread-like bun found in China, Taiwan and Indonesia. They can be filled with all kinds of things, but I opted for fried fish in a peanut sauce (and was not disappointed). After a semester full of eating new vegetables, I think I will shift my food exploring this summer towards trying to learn to cook foods from different places. Bao will be on the list, right behind Indian curry and injera (from Ethiopia).