Wednesday

Day 22 - The Benefits Of Dining In

Ever since I made my first trip to Manhattan in my freshman year of college, I’ve had a real love/hate affair with the mid-West in general. It was definitely more hate in the beginning, but it’s growing on me more and more every year.

Since that first trip, I’ve had the good fortune to return to NYC several times. One of the small things that you can’t fully appreciate on a single visit is that there really aren’t any mid-West style grocery stores anywhere on the island. There are a ton of these little grocery shops that we would probably liken to a 7-11, but not the giant food emporiums that we’re used to. You can easily find takeout buffets of exotic Asian food or real deep dish pizza that eats more like lasagna than pizza, but it’s much harder to find a place that sells a sack of potatoes or a gallon of milk. In fact, on one trip, I was so excited to find a half gallon of milk for sale in one of those little shops that I bought it on the spot, got a paper cup from a woman behind the counter and proceeded to sit on a curb in the middle of Manhattan and drink the whole thing.

Anyway, eating in NYC usually means going out. It’s a glamorous idea, but a tiring one. Eating out is more than just expensive, it’s time consuming. It means you have to look presentable, get your car (which is a huge ordeal) or get a cab (which is almost as bad), find a restaurant, order your food, wait around for your food… it’s like an hour long prospect at the shortest.

The few people that I know from New York don’t mind it. It’s part of life. They’ve lost sight of the idea that eating could be anything else.

Before this month, I was eating out a lot. It seemed easier at the time. However, this month has reminded me that even though rice takes 20 minutes to cook, it’s still faster than going out for food (and it’s obviously cheaper). Even though Ramen means you’ll have to wash a pot, no one cares what you’re wearing while you cook it. And perhaps most importantly, it reminded me that no matter what the meal tasted like, feeling full is pretty much a universal feeling after the fact, whether you ate a New York strip steak prepared by a 5-star chef or bowl of noodles and vegetables made by yours truly.

20 Comments:

Blogger Rob Renaud said...

Looking presentable, getting in cars or subways, and spending $10 are definitely not necesary for me to eat out in Manhattan

That said, this was a really interesting blog.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's all a question of what you want out of life. Another evening at home in shapeless, colorless sweats that really shoulda been washed last week, eating the same ol', sucking off the Cathode Nipple.

Or.

Sloughing off the prison uniform of Work Inc., revitalizing yourself with a shower and a too good for work look and getting out THERE. Senses open wide for it all, brain churning with the stimulus of conversation, observation, comparison and decision of an evening eating out.

Just like the hive you have drones, just happy to exist in their comfy lil' rut. Good for them, glad it makes 'em happy. But don't assume others will live that way.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never eat out, unless a female demands it.

Food eaten out is unhealthy, expensive, stuffed with MSG and spices to mask the crap ingredients they use... what's the point? Ambiance? I haven't even seen that lately.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I make Ramen, I don't bother with a pot. If you've got a kettle, just boil up the water in that. I typically crush the noodles before I remove them from the package, and then I pour them into a bowl. When the water's boiled, it's a matter of pouring, stirring, and covering. Three or four minutes later, you've got a full bowl of hot, tasty noodles.

10:51 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

I agree with Rob - the great thing about Manhattan is that usually within a 1 block radius, there are at least 5 or 6 great places to grab a quick bite where you can look like a bum and spend 6 bucks and great a great meal. Cabs are defintiely not necessary.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I think this blog is fascinating. In a way I guess I'm kinda doing the same experiment. It's called "Being A College Student." It's great fun if you don't mind being hungry.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eating out in Manhattan may take an hour, but eating in can take almost as long (20 minutes cooking, 10-20 minutes eating, 10 minutes cleaning up, plus time spent shopping). Toss in a wife and two kids, and it can take even longer. Eating out, on the other hand, involves a pleasant walk, sitting at a table and being served, and no cleanup. Plus, every Manhattan restaurant delivers food as well, so you can get a meal at home without cooking and, to a large extent, without cleaning up.

On the other hand, eating out is expensive, but then, groceries in Manhattan are pretty outrageous too.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you really ever been to Manhattan? We have plenty of grocery stores. They're not the size of small towns, but they aren't little bodegas either. I live in Union Square, and we've got a Food Emporium, a D'Agostino, a Whole Foods, and a Trader Joe's all within walking distance of my apartment. And then there are the grocery delivery places like FreshDirect. All in all, I eat in much more than I go out. (And when I do go out I take the subway, not a cab.)

10:43 AM  
Blogger A Million Paths said...

Eating out in Manhattan is easier than eating out in suburbs. You just have to know where to go - you can easily get a nice meal for 10 bucks or less that's not the crap stuff from a chain.

Also, Manhattan does have supermarkets. Big ones. You just have to know where to look and how to look. Apart from the massive Whole Foods (we're up to three now, Union Square, Chelsea and Columbus Circle) you have Fairway, and then sprinkled across the city are Associated, Garden of Eatin' etc. The thing to realize is that street level real estate is EXPENSIVE in NYC so a lot of bigger supermarkets are on two levels (or three).

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1.) Dude. That's what you get for living in Lansing. Move to Ann Arbor.

2.) Fairway? Dean and DeLuca? It's not that they have any less, it's just more compact and less junk. And the bagels . . . oh, the bagels. You don't even have to leave Manhattan. Assorted bodegas? Chinatown? Street food - falafel stands, hot dogs, knishes, all the nut guys. Who the hell dresses up anyway?

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1.) Dude. That's what you get for living in Lansing. Move to Ann Arbor.

2.) Fairway? Dean and DeLuca? It's not that they have any less, it's just more compact and less junk. And the bagels . . . oh, the bagels. You don't even have to leave Manhattan. Assorted bodegas? Chinatown? Street food - falafel stands, hot dogs, knishes, all the nut guys. Who the hell dresses up anyway?

7:44 PM  
Anonymous wheeler said...

It's already been said, but there are pa-lenty of groceries in Manhattan apart from the little stores you've seen. We're not all wealthy here and eating out is kept to a minimum (maybe once a week). It's funny how the rest of the country thinks NYers live. Apart from the tiny apartments and the more liberal mind-set, most of us carry on like the rest of the world.

I get your whole love/hate thing with the mid-west. I was born there, but raised in the southwest -- the ethos is pretty much the same. I later went to school in Indiana, so I know what I'm talking about.

By the way, great blog.

7:05 AM  
Blogger annulla said...

I'm going to echo the non-anonymous comments here. This entry makes me think that you've never really been to New York.

No grocery stores? No place to buy a gallon of milk? People getting dressed up and getting in their cars (who owns a car?) or taking cabs to eat? That isn't the way life works here. We live in New York because we can get everything here.

We have more stores, stocked with the excellent food, than I could possibly list in a month. As far as needing an hour to go somewhere to eat - there is a nice restaurant on the first floor of my building. There are 6 more places to eat on my block, ranging from a diner to a sushi place. Who needs to get dressed up? Who needs a car or a cab?

If you ever come back to New York and you can't find a grocery store, just ask. We'll be happy to point you in the right direction.

7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

gotta love a mid-westerner generalizing about new yorkers.

fyi: for many new yorkers eating out is the equivalent of stealing a packet of honey and a roll of toilet paper from dunkin donuts.

but i guess i shouldn't complain. it is my choice to pay ridiculously high rent on a tiny apartment in a bad neighborhood in brooklyn.

still, all considered, i'd rather be here.

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom lives in New York, so I am up there visiting alot. While we do eat out alot, we still do cook a bit.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another Anonymous dude said:
"It's all a question of what you want out of life. Another evening at home in shapeless, colorless sweats that really shoulda been washed last week, eating the same ol', sucking off the Cathode Nipple.

Or.

Sloughing off the prison uniform of Work Inc., revitalizing yourself with a shower and a too good for work look and getting out THERE. "

If that's what eating at home means, I'm glad I don't live in one like that. I leave work to get out of THERE, I don't leave home to do the same.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live part of the year in NYC and part of the year in a rural area. It is MUCH easier to eat in NYC (whether that be cooking at home, which is what I mostly do, or eating out) than it is in the country. I can walk to a huge number of grocery stores, specialty stores and, five days a week, farmer's markets. If I need something for a recipe its five minutes and I can get it- definitely not so in the country. And while the grocery stores in the suburbs and country are gigantic, they have much, much less variety (though what they do have comes in huge amounts). And aside from what comes out of my garden in the country, it is much easier to get fresh, organic (or local) produce in NYC- I've got two seasonal farm-stands within a fifteen mile drive in the country. Year-round in the city its a five-minute walk to a farmer's market where there are anywhere from 5 to 20 vendors. Don't get me wrong- I actually prefer life in the country, but some of perceptions in the blog about NYC are completely wrong- but understandably- it take more than visits to figure out one's way around and where and when to get what in the neighborhood.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which NYC were you in? Cause I live in Manhattan, and I'm not sure what you're talking about. Have you watch too much Sex in the City?

9:55 AM  
Anonymous dining table said...

Congratulations for a very well written article. I find it very interesting and informative as well. This is a must read article.

4:00 AM  

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