New York City evokes nostalgic reminiscences of hesitant yet already infatuated immigrants from every imaginable nation, disembarking upon Ellis Island’s shores. Leaving an enduring mark, New York City’s successive waves of immigration seasoned every conceivable corner of the metropolis with Mother Country recipes, tastes and delicacies. From Hell’s Kitchen, Meatpacking, Chinatown and Koreatown to Little Egypt, Odessa and Tokyo, modern visitors to the city that never sleeps are still served, nearly four centuries later, with an abundance of tastes from all over the world.
Hasten to Harlem to enjoy all the culinary delights of the Caribbean, starting with Sisters’ Caribbean Cuisine (https://m.facebook.com/SistersCaribbeanCuisine/?ref=bookmarks) on Marcus Garvey Park. A neighbourhood staple, here Guyanese proprietess Marlyn Rogers serves an impressive array of island-drawn recipes including Jamaican jerk or succulent Guyana masala chicken, steeped tender in East Indian spice, expansive West Indian flatbreads, candied yams, lavish ox tail stews, and generous plates of delectable Trinidadian callaloo –amaranth and okra stewed long in coconut milk.
Or, visit the pastel-hued LoLo’s Seafood (http://www.lolosseafoodshack.com/) for delicious Caribbean street food served unceremoniously. Feast on delectable conch fritters, formidably spiced jerk ribs, coconut milk suffused dutty rice, moreish pom pom shrimp, deep-fried plantain and ambrosial, honey-slathered Johnnycake.
Kaleidoscopic amusements and exhilarating rides, mountains of cotton candy and mounds of hot dogs, Coney Island’s infamous boardwalk traditionally evokes visions of kerchiefed grandmothers, stoic potatoes and the Winter Palace. But amidst the gaudy waterfront attractions and the labyrinthine lanes of nearby Brighton Beach, unsuspecting beachgoers can discover innumerable eateries, many of which are from Russia.
Skovorodka (http://www.skovorodkanyc.com/) is undoubtedly the best starting place. Offering traditional savoury dumplings, Siberian pelmeni, pan-fried liver and beef tongue salad, borscht, smoked mackerel and chicken rulet. Enjoy regular live musical performances too, best enjoyed over delectable apple blintzes and zavarka tea with traditional preserves.
Should you have Georgia on your mind, however, head north of the boardwalk to We Are Georgians (http://www.wearegeorgians.com/) for authentic Georgian food – from the country, not the state. Here, Marina Maisuradze-Olivo and nephew Giorgi serve formidable khinkali, pleated dumplings stuffed with an appetizing melange of pork and veal served with ajika, a peppery condiment made with coriander and blue fenugreek. And khachapuri, traditional breads containing delectable combinations of cheese, butter and eggs, or chicken chashushuli, a Georgian variety of goulash – all washed down with homemade tarragon soda.
The church spires, markets and cuisine of Mother Poland pervade the majestic brownstone-lined avenues of Brooklyn’s northernmost neighbourhood. Savour authentic Polish food hearthside at the wood-panelled Karczma (http://karczmabrooklyn.com/en/). Here beneath the lanterns, wagon wheels and a wishing well, waiters in traditional costume serve heaped plates of assorted kielbasa, sumptuous stuffed cabbage, tender roasted hocks, peasant’s lard and Oscypek (highlander-style smoked cheese), all prepared by Nobu alumni Krzysztof Drzewiecki.
To eat among Greenpoint’s traditional residents, visit neighbourhood fixture Christina’s (http://www.christinaspolishrestaurant.net/), where plentiful, inexpensive pierogis accompany bowls of borscht, paprika-suffused Hungarian pancakes, platters of sauerkraut and succulent kielbasa. Wander along Manhattan Avenue to experience all the wonders of Warsaw, perhaps indulging in a sweet treat from one of the innumerable traditional bakeries – Syrena or Rzeszowska are both Krakow approved.
Characterised by the palates of the archipelago’s indigenous inhabitants, the Taíno, as well as that of Spain, Africa and America, la cocina criolla (traditional Creole cooking) of Puerto Rico encompasses an extraordinary array of tastes and flavours.
For ample servings of lechón (tender-roasted suckling pig), journey no further than Angel ‘Piraña’ Jimenez's Lechonera La Piraña, his famed weekend food truck.
Offering traditionally machete-cut servings of South Bronx-renowned, butter-succulent lechón, served with arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon and peas), the queues can be long but the food is worth the wait. Accompany Puerto Rico’s national dish with Angel’s delectable seafood salads: thick-chopped octopus, squid and olive.
Devour flavoursome alcapurrias con carne (yucca fritters with beef) and pastelillos de jueyes (crab empanadas), served with house-made mojo - a flavoursome concoction of pureed garlic and pique, a vinegary hot sauce.
If you’re still hungry, walk through the surrounding neighbourhoods amid decadent mountains of deep-fried cuchifritos (fried foods, usually pork), alcapurrias (fritters), chicharróns (fried pork belly or rinds) and pastelillos (similar to empanadas): Puerto Rican street-foods worthy of San Juan.