Excess on a plate: postcard from New York
Sunday 29 June 1997
When it comes to food, New Yorkers are more spoilt than even AA Milne's Mary Jane - who threw a tantrum rather than eat her rice pudding. In other cities, in other nations, people simply eat: for breakfast, they rejoice to receive a cup of coffee or tea and a husk of bread, accompanied by a scraping of margarine or Marmite, and a droplet of honey or smear of jam; at lunchtime, they make do with a sandwich; at dinner, with guilty indulgence, they consume a fillet, salad and veg, and some sort of starch, varying according to the nearest latitude and body of water. But in New York everyone feasts. Feasts for breakfast, feasts for lunch, feasts for dinner. The New Yorker rises at 8am, then pads over to the breakfast nook and devours enough food to feed an Italian fishing village for a week. Mountains of doughy bagels, smoked salmon, cream cheese, steamed eggs, corned-beef hash, sausages, waffles, pancakes, cornflakes - all washed down with a still-life's worth of fruit and bee pollen mashed up in a high-speed blender. At the office three hours later, Manhattan's buzzing workforce hits a disquieting lull, as employees stop to ponder every day's most urgent project; the selection of the company-paid lunch. Will it be Mexican, Indian, Italian, Texan, barbecue, diner fare, or Japanese? Anyone for fugu? Or what about that brilliant new sandwich place, the one that noticed that people couldn't fit their mouths around the filling-crammed sandwiches, and so made the bread as flat and big as placemats - to hold all the stuffings without causing undue discomfort to the jaw?
By noon, everyone has figured out what sort of juices, cappuccinos and biscotti they want, the orders are phoned in, and the workday resumes. Until dinner, when the hunt begins for a place that has food as good as lunch, in an atmosphere as good as the movies, including, it is always hoped, patrons whom one can actually see on the movie screen. Chez Es Saada is only one of a slew of restaurants that struggle to attract jaded diners by dishing out food in mythical environs; another is Pravda, the swank post-Soviet vodka and pirozhki bar. Still another is Balthazar, a lily-choked, marble- wood-and-mirrors re-creation of a Parisian 19th-century restaurant, which has so captured the public imagination that diagrams are regularly published in the local papers, including the Times, showing where moguls and stars sat in it.
During this week in late June, designated "restaurant week", bistros and dinner spots, cafes and diners exert themselves specially to catch New Yorkers' hungry eyes and slavering mouths, luring them in with multi- course luncheons at prices even lower than usual. New Yorkers rarely notice the difference, since every week is restaurant week when you are on an expense account, and no one knows how to cook, or has time to shop, anyway. Gulled into terminal overwork by canny corporate honchos who toss them lunch much as a zookeeper tosses herring to seals, New Yorkers have come to confuse working with eating - which probably explains why they see food as such serious business.
Life & Style blogs
The Evil Within preview: a survival horror fan’s best worst nightmare
Porn film production likely to stop after performer tests positive for HIV
Ice Bucket Challenge: ALS Association doesn't yet know what to do with all of the money raised
Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion'
iPhone 6 'release date' firmed up in leaked photos of Apple smartphone
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 3 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 4 George Galloway attacked on Notting Hill street by man 'shouting about the holocaust'
- 5 Brother and sister, Christopher Buckner and Timothy Savoy, arrested for 'committing incest after watching 'The Notebook''
- < Previous
- Next >
£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...
£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...