Archive for the 'Food' Category

Lox, Nova, and more Yiddish

There is a right and a wrong way to eat a bagel. Actually, there are several wrong ways to eat a bagel. You can’t be in a hurry. You can’t eat it quickly. And you can’t pick it up on the way to work at some half-ass coffee shop. Eating a bagel has an aristocratic flare to it. You need to be lighthearted, embracing, and indulgent. (There’s seriously no other justifiable reason to starting your day off with that many calories.) It’s a simple pleasure and it shows a sense of careful carelessness.

You can have a plain bagel with cream cheese. You can have a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and jelly. You can have an sesame seed bagel with tofu vegetable cream cheese. Jewish delis have spent the past few centuries cultivating the bagel and its spreads. Wednesday was the only sunny day this week – every other day was ruined by thunderstorms – so I thought to take the day to relax and enjoy a bagel. I casually woke up around 11AM, toasted a bagel, smeared on chive and onion cream cheese, slapped on four ounces of nova (smoked salmon), and poured myself a big glass of Diet Coke. I spent the afternoon tanning, reading, and resting. It was a perfect day in the suburbs – couldn’t have asked for more.


Hard Lemonade Recipe

Hard Lemonade is a refreshing and sweet summer drink that will maintain a nice buzz throughout the night. This recipe is a mix between Mike Hard’s Lemonade and Long Island Iced Tea. (The former being entirely ineffective and the latter being the easiest way to sink your ship.)


  • Country Time Lemonade Powder
  • Fresca
  • Vodka (brand of your choice!)
  • Water, preferably cold
  • A container or a bowl, depending on your class
  • Pour 4 cups (1 quart) of water into the container
  • Use the Country Time container to measure 1 quarter’s worth of powder, pour into container
  • Pour 2 (or 3) cups of Fresca into container
  • Pour vodka – a lot of vodka
  • Shake well and serve with ice cubes
Of course, take the liberty to adjust certain steps. I personally like to use a little more of the powder so my drink is sweeter. The powder and soda shouldn’t cost more than $5 and they make well over ten drinks. This recipe is cost effective and delicious!

Dean and Deluca: Mango Nectarines

I was strolling around in Soho earlier and I stumbled into Dean and Deluca. The fruits line the front of the store, so it is hard to ignore them, especially when you see some exotic ones and names like “mango nectarine.” The description reads, “the taste of a mango. The color and shape of a golden plum.” So it is pretty much a mix of mango, nectarine, and plum. Sounds delicious. What could go wrong?

A lot of things. Came home and chopped it up. It had the texture of a plum, but tasted like a nectarine, but sort of had an aftertaste of a mango. I’m still debating about whether I like it or not. The sign reads $7 a pound, but the nice fruit clerk only charged me for $5 a pound, so I paid $1.25 for one of them. I think it is the one right in front of the stake. It isn’t worth the price though. I’d rather spend double that and buy a delicious mango from Whole Foods.

Dunkin Donuts: The NYU Way

NYU brilliantly extended their meal plans to include one special Dunkin Donuts located in their University Hall (UHall) building on 14th Street. You can either use your dining dollars or meal swipes to pay for it. A meal consists of a drink and a sandwich or two donuts. We regretfully ordered Dunkin Donuts coffee for our first few times, but after pleading to the workers, they informed us that we can order a latte instead. Iced large French vanilla latte with four splenda and non-fat milk? Solid order. It isn’t Starbucks, but it isn’t as bad as Dunkin Donuts coffee. Apparently the difference between coffee and a latte is pressing a different button. Who knew?

I always eat and hang out with the same best friend, so we thought to share a meal plan this summer. We only spent half of our twelve meal swipes this week and they were about to expire, so we went to Dunkin Donuts to spend the remaining six swipes. What did we order? Rather: what didn’t we order?

  • 2 Large iced lattes, non-fat milk, four splenda, one French vanilla and the other caramel
  • 2 Bottles of water
  • 1 Bottle of Mountain Dew (not sure why we bought that)
  • 1 Bottle of Orange Juice
  • 2 Sausage, egg and cheeses, one on garlic and the other on sesame
  • 1 Tuna fish sandwich on a plain bagel
  • 1 Turkey cheddar flat
  • 1 Boston cream donut
  • 1 Long John donut
  • 1 Bavarian cream donut
  • 1 Powdered donut
We devoured it all within eight hours.

Is Diet Coke bad for you?

There is nothing more refreshing and awakening than a fresh glass of ice cold Diet Coke in the morning. It’s a universal truth among Diet Coke drinkers. We have other options – like coffee or orange juice – but those have calories and lack the bubbling sensation as it goes down our throats. We reach a point where Diet Coke becomes our water. And is that a bad thing? Is Diet Coke bad for you?

It is an age old question that divides two camps – one screaming “Yes, aspartame causes cancer!” and the other, often considered in denial, screaming “No, it is fine.” Writing as Diet Coke Diaries, it sounds as if I am on the latter side of the argument, but I’d like to think that I’ve done considerable research and have established an unbiased position. I’ve been drinking over a liter of Diet Coke a day for about six years now. I am aware of what is going into my body and what effects it has on me.

The controversy over Diet Coke is rooted in its artificial sweetener, aspartame. It was first synthesized in 1965 as a sugar substitute – it is two hundred times sweeter than table sugar, so only a very small amount is needed to achieve the same sweetness. Because of the minute dosage, its caloric contribution is considered trifling. Even when it is in the body, it is quickly digested.

Although, and as I mentioned before, critics have targeted its alleged link to cancer as the main focal part of their argument. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency responsible for regulating and protecting public health and wellbeing, has completed numerous studies on aspartame and its side effects over the years – all of which have returned inconclusive. Of course, the critics have dubbed the FDA to be politically biased, incorrect, and just plain stupid, so for the sake of rationality, I will omit the FDA from my analysis based on those baseless claims. After all, aspartame has been approved in over 130 countries and dozens of private and public agencies around the world have conducted their own research, so it isn’t like I am short on references.

The National Cancer Institute conducted a study on about 500,000 people and returned no link between aspartame and cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma. The research was conducted on the basis that increased levels of cancer were prevalent in a study done on female rats and on the basis that brain cancer has increased over the years and people have pointed to artificial sweeteners being the culprit. The first one, while interesting, was conducted on female rats, therefore not entirely representational of human beings, thus the National Cancer Institute conducted their own human research. The latter claim was refuted and criticized for ecological fallacies as for artificial sweeteners weren’t the only thing that changed in American lifestyles in the years studied.

The Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of Diet Coke is 50mg per kilogram of body weight. I weight about 150 pounds or 68 kilograms, so my aspartame ADI is 3,400mg. Each ounce of diet soda contains 15 mg of aspartame. I would need to drink 226 ounces – 19 cans or four 2L bottles of Diet Coke – in a day to be above my acceptable daily intake. I’d say that the most Diet Coke I ever drank is two full bottles in a day. I usually drink one bottle a day, but rarely do I drink more than that. I’d say that I am safe within my aspartame intake and the chance of developing cancer solely on my Diet Coke consumption is nil.

Critics also claim that Diet Coke is bad for you because it increases your risk for obesity. I have a little more sympathy in this claim because I do believe that some of them are true, but Diet Coke isn’t inherently linked to obesity and diabetes, merely the actions related to Diet Coke consumption are. The same applies to how eating carrots reduces the possibility of becoming blind – it isn’t the carrot that does it, but rather the person that is likely to eat the carrots (and other healthy foods) are less likely to become blind later in life.

The obesity claim stems from the diet fallacy where people think it is okay to eat multiple low-fat options instead of one full-fat option. (Two low-fat yogurts at 70 calories will add up to 40 calories more than one full-fat yogurt at 100 calories!) However, I don’t use Diet Coke as an excuse to eat more, nor do I think that consuming Diet Coke makes me eat more. I’m naturally a fatass and if you ask anyone if I am obese, they’d respond with a resounding no. The diet fallacy comes down to whether or not someone can balance their caloric intake and dietary needs, not consuming Diet Coke.

I’m content with my Diet Coke consumption. I truly believe that there is more to bad health than consuming a drink that has never been proven detrimental to human health. I have received a clean bill of health for the past eighteen years of my life, and even some concerns for weight loss these recent years. Living in Manhattan certainly helps with exercise and I can’t imagine my recent endeavors in fattening foods – within the past few months, really – have had that much of an effect on me.

I am Pakistani, apparently

I wrote about Spice Corner in an earlier post, and I described the treat he gave me as a “three inch ball of a dense, fried dough, sweet and sugary.” I asked a friend of mine who was familiar with southern Asian cuisine and she told me that I most likely had gulab jamun. When I returned the other day, I didn’t realize that all of the items on the bakery shelf were labelled.

I ordered a pound of gulab juman (received a discount again) and then I thought to grab some pista barfi too. Barfi is simply condensed milk cooked with sugar and other ingredients. The other ingredient is usually a fruit – mangoes or coconut – or even a nut – cashews or pistachios. In my case, the pista meant pistachio. It is very dense and sugary – absolutely delicious. I recommend any flavor!

As I promised myself last time, I’d ask about some of the currencies next time I was in the store. After I paid and he handed me the treats, I leaned over and started to ask about the currencies. “So which currencies are these? I see you have Iraq right ther-” “And here is Pakistan. You are Pakistani, right?” “Oh, no no. I am not from Pakistan.” His face shuffled and he was staring at me as if I was lying or as if he was deeply confused. I smiled and left.

It wasn’t the first time that I have received a comment like that. A Muslim Pakistani man approached me on the train, swore I was both Pakistani and Muslim, and that he wanted me as a roommate. I would normally write that off as creepy, weird, but I was kind of flattered. Another time, I was in a touristy area and the shopkeeper was guessing where each of customers were from. “France?” She said to the people in front of me. “That’s right!” They replied. I laughed. “And, you! You are a Turk!” she exclaimed at me. “Oh, no, I am not a Turk.” “Where are you from, then?” “New York.” And then the conversation fizzled out.

Perhaps it is trivial, but I sort of take pride in these compliments. I am a Middle Eastern Studies (and Politics) major, so I think it is interesting to be considered as someone from there. But I don’t have a trace of any Middle Eastern country in my blood. I sort of thank my grandparents – who I resemble most in facial structure and skin tone – from coming from Italy, or even the Mediterranean. I know of another Italian friend who was thought to be Moroccan when she was in Morocco. She’s a little darker than me, but I can’t wait to travel around the region and see if I can blend in with the locals. They are sharp with Arabic dialects and origins, so I want to see how many I can confuse!

Stack of Oranges

After the MTA changed the bus schedule, my best friend and I decided to walk down to 14th Street instead of scouring for the nearest bus stop that was in service. A few blocks down, we noticed these perfectly stacked citruses and had to take photos. (His turned out much better and less slanted.) We’ve noticed this place multiple times, but we’ve never given it the time of day to walk inside. It’s not much larger than a bodega, and it doesn’t seem to be that well stocked from the outside. I figured it was just another, run-of-the-mill, low-grade local grocery stores. But I’ve never been as wrong in my life – the place is overstocked and gives cheap a new definition.

We cook multiple times a week and use chicken as our primary meat, so we thought to check out the chicken section: $1.99 a pound. I have never seen a price that low in the city. We usually pay $4.99 with our membership discount to Food Emporium. Whole Foods runs the same when it is on sale. But we were staring at two and a half pounds of chicken for five dollars! We both sent texts to our mothers asking if $1.99 a pound for chicken was decent, underpriced, or just right. My mom replies saying that it normal. So does his mom. How on earth did we ever possibly think that $5 a pound for chicken was reasonable?

I also found Russian dressing, which I’ve been hunting throughout the city for ever since my mom gave me the recipe to one of my favorite chicken dishes that she makes. I’m planning on making that sometime this week. I just question if the quality is decent, but half the time our chicken is supplemented by NYU dining, so it isn’t like we are used to the creme de la creme of chicken. I forgot the name of the place, but it is a great find and I look forward to shopping there soon.






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