I grew up in Jamaica Queens. My apartment building was sandwiched between a bodega and a pupuseria. For the unexposed, a bodega is a deli grocery store typically owned and operated by Dominicans with heavily accented English. You know a corner store is a bodega if when you walk in there’s an employee holding a newspaper leaning against a food stand or ice cream freezer speaking with the man behind the counter in rapid fire Dominican Spanish smattered with at least fifteen diques and babosos per second. A pupuseria is a Salvadorian restaurant that specializes in pupusas- a thick tortilla stuffed with any combination of pork, cheese, and beans. My mom used to pick up a fifteen pack of pupusas revueltas (mixed) every weekend for dinner. On the weekdays after school I’d search for quarters in the sofa and go to the bodega for a ring pop. Growing up in New York City I was constantly exposed to different people and cultures. Being a kid, I was never aware of the privilege that is exclusive to those who are raised in big cities. I had classmates and friends from all around the world and I experienced their cultures through food. For immigrants from any country, food can be the most important tie to home. I realized this about myself when I lived in El Salvador for three months. Sure, the local riguas, pupusas, and pasteles were great but after the first month, all I really wanted was a cheeseburger or a turkey sub.
I love food and I’m incredibly un-picky about my tastes. I’m an adventurous person and I explore with my stomach as much as I do with any other part of my body. Fried spicy Malaysian noodles with squid? Serve me a platter. Pasteles stuffed with cheese and guava? That sounds interesting- I’ll take two. This place has a C on the front door? Who cares? The Cuban sandwiches are great, salmonella be damned. To me, eating food and participating in the ritual of consumption is the funnest, cheapest, and most delightfully exciting way to experience culture. That’s why I’ll be blogging about finding great authentic ethnic food in New York City, as well as creating some dishes at home. My name is Catherine and I’ll be your guide through the best the five boroughs has to offer.
Catherine, Hudson County Community College, Read my blog
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