Grease Is Good!

Are lard, eggs, and fish tacos the new health foods?

It's obvious enough which foods are good for you, even with the patchwork of truths and half-truths and outright falsehoods we've been fed. Who can argue with the healthiness of the hummus at HUMMUS PLACE (109 St. Marks Place, 212-529-9198; 99 MacDougal Street, 212-533-3089) or CHICKPEA (23 Third Avenue, 212-254-9500) or the baba ghanoush at SALUTE (63-42 108th Street, Rego Park, Queens, 718-275-6860), a Bukharan diner in Rego Park formerly known as Salut? Americanization proceeds apace. Or the eggplant dip at MEZE (6601 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-234-MEZE), a chunky mélange of dark and light parts dressed mainly with lemon and olive oil? Dippered with warm, torn pitas right out of the oven, what could be more healthy?

East Harlem's premier health food emporium
photo: Tamara Rosenblum
East Harlem's premier health food emporium

Or a cool bowl of purple-onion-laced Peruvian shrimp ceviche from LA POLLADA DE LAURA (102-03 Northern Boulevard, East Elmhurst, Queens, 718-426-7818), or an equally good snack of fish crudo from Long Island sources dressed with fruity olive oil and a fresh herb or two from ESCA(402 West 43rd Street, 212-564-7272), or even an Uruguayan-style bife de chorizo steak done rare and sided with fried yuca from LA ESQUINA CRIOLLA (94-67 Corona Avenue, Corona, Queens, 718-699-5579), or a pasta done al cartoccio ("in a bag") at ROBERTO'S (603 Crescent Avenue, Bronx, 718-733-9503), dotted with porcini mushrooms and shared among friends. I think it will turn out that the trick to healthy living is to vary your dining habits as much as possible, free-ranging over New York's culinary landscape like so many barnyard chickens and bravely, without apologies, eating pretty much what you like. But maybe in slightly smaller quantities . . .

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