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Wafels & Dinges

It was an unusually warm evening in October when I decided to take a few minutes to slow down and enjoy the city.  I am normally very happy in my relationship with the city but I’ve been feeling a bit stifled in the relationship lately.  I was really feeling like I need some space and some time away- that the principle of reciprocity was off balance.    And then I got some perspective in the form of cool and creamy ice cream over a soft and crispy warm waffle.  I had passed the Wafels & Dinges truck the day before and although it looked and smelled amazing and it seemed to live up to the publicity that it has been getting in the foodie pages but the long line in front of it was the only deterrent.  Tonight was the night.  There weren’t mobs of people passing by and through the Time Warner building and there weren’t too many people polluting the air with cigarettes outside so I became the third person in line at the Waffle truck.  The guy in the truck served me with wonderful attitude and he gets an A-plus in customer service.  I had a ton of questions and when I asked what was in the Spekuloos spread, he said, “Rainbows, magic, and a little bit of James Franco,”  as he handed me a sample of it.  “Wow, James Franco is really hot and this spread is really good!” was what came out of my mouth.  The waffle came hot off the iron and the Spekuloos (Belgian gingerbread-cinnamon) spread melted gorgeously over it.  It was topped triumphantly with raspberry-vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.  I got it in a mini size which was perfectly sized and proportioned so that  in my mind I didn’t have to convert the calories into time on the treadmill.

I did say something about perspective earlier so here it is, as promised.  There was a question posed to me last week at church: Are you a consumer who takes from the city or do you seek the peace and prosperity (Shalom) of the city and it’s inhabitants?  I had been taking for granted that the city is about people and culture, not necessarily about places and things.  Yes, this was an amazingly delicious wafel that I was enjoying but it represented something more than just a food product.  Someone who is passionate about food was able to turn that passion into a wonderful experience that brings smiles to people’s faces, that brings foodies, families, and friends together, and that serves as an ambassador of Belgian culture.  Why does that song say, “New York, New York.  If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere?”  What makes the city unbearable to me sometimes is exactly what makes it a cultural influencer.   It’s feels crowded and dirty, the weather is fickle, and there are always groups of people speaking their mind (or playing loud instruments badly) whether solicited or unsolicited.  But the thing is, the more needs that arise, the more creativity and resolve rise up to meet them.  While I feel the need to go someplace that resembles nature, I feel more compelled to go down to Wall Street to help Occupy it.  I need to check in on those friends that I haven’t heard from in a while.  And I should find a way to use my talents for good instead of complaining that my talents go unnoticed.  And yes, all this came out of a wafel.

Wafel & Dinges



Cupcake Stop (truck)

I had just struck out at the Wicked lottery and it was a wicked hot day today.  I headed up to Columbus Circle to take shelter at the air conditioned Borders when I spotted the Cupcake Stop truck parked at the corner of 58th and 8th.  Diana and I split a Vanilla Latte Cupcake.  The cake was nice and dense without being dry.  Ratio of frosting to cake was absolutely perfect.  Definitely recommend it if you pass by.


Chicken n’ Rice- 53rd and 6th

People at work were passionately debating a topic one day.  As I listened, all I could make out was what sounded to me like a compound word, “Chickenrice.”  Back and forth.  “53rd is a classic.”  “No, Sammy’s was voted best cart!”  I’ve only eaten from a couple of Halal carts in the city, and neither were 53rd or Sammy’s.  So last night after work we ventured into the city for Chicken n’ Rice at 53rd (and yes, they do actually have a Wikipedia article).  As we drove from Long Island to the city, I came to understand the importance of 53rd.  My coworkers would drive into the city on the weekends just to eat Chicken n’ Rice, and they’d have it multiple days during the weekdays if they were in the city already.  Jonatan said, “My mom always asks me why I need to go all the way into the city to eat.  When I tell her that it’s Chicken n’ Rice she tells me that she’ll make me chicken and rice.  It is not the same, ma!”

We finally made it to the Southwest corner of 53rd and 6th.  My friends were messing with me.  They said, “It’s like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld.  You can’t say anything to them!  Just kidding.”  We got there somewhat early, around 11pm.  The line was still very short.  $6 got me a large container of rice with chicken and lamb.  It comes also with salad and pita bread.  Sauce is on the side for you to add yourself.  The white sauce went on it without hesitation but I decided not to mess with the hot sauce.  I was warned that it is extremely hot.  It was a hot night, had a long day at work, and the iconic Chicken n’ Rice really hit the spot.

I grew up in California making midnight runs to Little Cesar’s, Taco Bell, and In-N-Out Burger.  If I grew up in New York, you bet I would have made midnight runs to 53rd.  Up next:  Sammy’s in Jackson.  My other co-worker insists on the comparison.  I’m glad he’s coming with me because there are so many Halal carts in Jackson Heights, I can’t tell which one is Sammy’s!

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