Friday, June 10, 2011

Home Food

"I want a hamburger or a BLT. That's all I want when we get home."

It was all I could utter, the day before we left India. Sweaty and flush faced, I looked at Wingman and rolled my eyes as I picked up a fork of my chicken fried rice at a barely cool outpost outside of Agra that was struggling with brownouts.

I'd long tired of eating anything with nary a mention of curry.

We were on a long, dusty ride back to Delhi, headed to the airport for our 12:05 am flight back to JFK, and I was consumed with the thought of meat.

We really didn't eat a lot of meat in India. Certainly not any beef or pork. Most of what we manged on was vegetarian, though we did try lamb and chicken a few times.

It's funny. After a few days of battling extreme (read: 110 degree) heat, Delhi Belly and the incessant harassment by touts, all I wanted was a meal from "home." It didn't have to be cooked by mama or covered in gravy, it just had to have a flavor of familiar.

It needed to be meaty. Apologies to my veg friends.

Fast forward, oh, 17 hours. We landed in New York and took a black, shiny car to our hotel. They wouldn't let us check in, so we dropped our bags and headed for Chelsea Market.

It was 9 am and some of the stores hadn't yet opened their doors. We wandered, soaking in the sounds of American English, the sights of our homeland and the smells of something delicious.

The yeasty wafting of baking bread, freshly caught crabs on a heap of ice, the dust of coffee beans fresh through the grinder.

We were home.

We padded through the market, a bit bewildered, exhausted and noncommittal. I'd made it through the worst of Delhi Belly but Wingman hadn't, so he wasn't as hungry. The choice was up to me, and I chose Friedman's Lunch.

Part diner lunch counter and part quasi street cafe, Friedman's is full of long, wooden table tops and the servers bring you water in de-labeled wine bottles. It's vintage-y, hipsterish, homey, all rolled together.

Wingman ordered a bagel and water (really, Delhi Belly will make even the best eater cower at the sight of food), and I ordered the BLAT Sandwich - applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado on sour dough bread with herbed aioli ($10).

Sweet Jesus.

Now, I'll admit the whole applewood smoked bacon thing is played out. Anytime you start seeing a fast food mainstay or megachain promoting the use of something, it has culinarily jumped the shark.

That said, the BLAT was not saag paneer, chapatis, a kabab or a laundry list of other things I was sick of eating.

The BLAT was crispy, fatty bacon, dressed with a juicy slice of tomato and the creamy goodness of avocado.

It was just what the doctor ordered.

After lunch, we wandered the market and I was drawn to the cutest brownie shop, Fat Witch. These brownies are apparently legendary in NYC (so says their web page).

I stepped in because I loved the name - sometimes my mom refers to my sisters and me as witches (believe me, if you know anything about sisters, they can be very witchy at times), and a smile cracked across my face when I saw one brownie called Blonde Witch.

I think I know what I might be getting my mom for her birthday.

We strolled onward to the High Line, a public park space that was once a train line high above Chelsea's streets. It's amazing how New York reclaimed the line and turned it into a functional place where people walk, picnic, enjoy cultural performances and otherwise soak up the sun in the city.

On the flight from Delhi, I read a Vanity Fair peice about the most fascinating art gallery collection featuring Picasso's work highlighting his muse and lover, Marie Therese.

We happened to be only a couple blocks away from the Gagosian Gallery (522 West 21st Street), so we decided to step in and see the collection, which was assembled by Picasso and Marie Therese's granddaughter.

It's free to see and runs through July 15, so if you're in New York City, I suggest you check it out.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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