Monday morning I had a good long look around, took in one last lungful of fresh North Country air, and then drove to New York City. I arrived in Brooklyn via an extremely scenic route (by scenic I mean free of tolls- ah, the joys being destitute unwittingly bestow!), so I really did receive a nice, long, proper goodbye from the countryside I love so dearly.
Ever the hunter-gatherer, I kept my eyes anxiously peeled for farm stands and fresh produce on the roads down, utterly convinced that New York City would be an expensive culinary wasteland. I was laughably wrong, but my efforts did yield some finger-licking results. A small natural foods store was offering large pastured eggs for $2 a dozen, so I snatched a couple dozen of those up, along with pastured butter and a jar of fish paste. But the real find was a just-off-the-road orchard market that sold apples and preserves and fresh produce….and MEAT. But not any old, conventionally raised meat. Oh no. They were selling grass fed and finished beef and pastured pork by the boatload, and they had ALL the good, cheap, delicious parts.
A perk of being a poor college student that eats like royalty is that you learn to cook the weird bits of the animal. Subsequently, along with my cheap roasts and short ribs, I took away meaty beef knuckles and a pigs tail (tail still attached). My meat choices may have seemed conservative in the past, but that was all dictated by circumstance. Get ready for the weird stuff. Lard rendering to come shortly!
I won’t lie, I experienced some rather alarming culture shock entering the city (in fact, I’m rather in awe of myself for not crashing into anyone or going the wrong way down a one-way street). The lights, the honking, the congestion…oh, and the sheets of rain didn’t really help either. New York City was overwhelming and scary and for a moment (or several moments) I just wanted to be back on the river, my feet sinking into the rich earth.
But after a couple days of settling in, the Big Apple has definitely started to grow on me. There’s art everywhere, and vibrancy everywhere, and FOOD EVERYWHERE. There are a million little bodegas and specialty shops and foreign groceries (like an amazing polish store less than a block from my apartment). This city is so diverse and colorful, and the endless food scene reflects that. I’ve been especially inspired by the Indian and Thai and Chinese influences, so expect curries and summer sweets and spices galore.
An unexpected, yet pleasant surprise has been the friendliness of New Yorkers. For a population famed for their standoffish-ness, these people are remarkably helpful. Or maybe it’s just obvious if I became threatening they could quickly push me over and run. Whatever the reason, it’s been a very welcoming and warm beginning. After depositing my car off in Connecticut a few days ago, I took the train back in to NYC via Grand Central Station. Though it wasn’t on the way to my metro line, I couldn’t help walking into the main terminal and basking in the rich and travel-laden history of the marble walls. It was just as beautiful as the tour guides and the television shows make it out to be. What no one ever mentions, however, is the brilliant turquoise ceiling. I could hardly keep me eyes on the floor ahead of me, enchanted as I was by the soaring starry blue rafters.
My proudest achievement thus far is definitely mastery of the metro. After a couple mishaps and moments of mayhem, I think I might actually have a handle on how the subway works. Since I hail from the state of driving and have been a bit of a country bumpkin lately, I’m rather pleased with myself, to be honest. This skill was put to good use last night, when I met up with a Brooklyn Board Games group. I was a tad late, but I got there. Four hours of breathless laughing and the most intense game of charades I have ever played later, it was well worth the trek.
I think I’m starting to like this town.