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?

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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