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New York City (NYC) Food
New York City is the cultural capital of the United States, a world leader in entertainment and business, and home to some of the best food in the world. With nearby Ellis Island, the main point of entry for immigrants to the United States from 1892 to 1954, New York City became a multicultural city. Representing just about every culture around the world, the City offers a variety of international cuisines from Afghan to Vietnamese.
Some of the most iconic foods of the city include pizza, hot dogs and other street fare, as well as ethnic foods, like Chinese and Jewish dishes. This mixture of people and their cultures has created a melting pot of food fusions. The evolution of foods brought from homelands all around the world lead to the creation of unique dishes and adaptations that can only be found in the Big Apple. The food of New York City has become a reflection of the city’s history, people, and their lifestyle.
Thin crust pizza topped with gooey mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce is the classic style of New York pizza. Often sold by the slice, it’s a common sight to see New Yorkers folding their wide, floppy slices of pizza in half and eating them like a sandwich. The hand-tossed crust, thick and fluffy at the edges but super thin at the center, is the signature of a New York pizza. Many pizza makers in the city claim that the secret to the perfect New York style crust is all in the city’s water, which is used to make the dough.
Aside from the street pizza, which is found all around the city, famous pizzerias have existed in New York City’s Little Italy district since the early 1900s. Lombardi’s opened in 1905 and calls itself America’s oldest pizzeria. Another favorite is Ray’s Pizza, which has been around since the 1950s, though numerous pizzerias exist with variations on this name around the city.
For a bustling city like NYC, the need for grub-on-the-go for the fast-paced lifestyles of New Yorkers is simple to understand. While fast food chains rule most of the country, the City’s version of a speedy meal usually arrives in the form of a food cart. With their delicious and inexpensive food, street vendors have become an emblem of the streets of NYC.
With low overhead and a flexible lifestyle, becoming a street vendor is a fairly lucrative and common occupation for recent immigrants to the United States, meaning multicultural meals are widely available in carts around the city. The popularity of street vendors has given rise to the Vendy Awards, an annual awards ceremony, which started in 2005, dedicated to naming the best street cart of the year.
The first thing that comes to many people’s minds when considering classic New York foods are the many hot dog carts on street corners around the city. These mobile munchies typically cost little more than one dollar, and available toppings usually include mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, relish, and onions.
A vast array of multicultural cuisine is available from street vendors around the city. Some of the most popular types of cuisine are Middle Eastern foods, like falafel and kebabs. Falafel is an Egyptian dish, made from ground chickpeas formed into a ball and then fried. These are often served in a pita with vegetables and hummus.
Other significant street carts serve specialties like arepas from Colombia, tamales and adaptations on dishes from Mexico, Brazil, Bangladesh, Germany, and more.