Most of the time, places with a rich art culture also have amazing food — and New York happens to be one of them. Because the adage “you eat with your eyes first” is true! Time and time again, New York-based chefs and home cooks proved how innovative they are by coming up with dishes that not only nourish the body but also satiate a person’s palate and please the eyes. There are many foods and drinks invented in New York but there are also some that are simple enough to make at home — and you probably already do make them!
When we say New Yorkers are innovative, we mean it. One testament to that is how a simple egg toast got “yassified.” Eggs Benedict may only have a few ingredients, but if this straightforward breakfast dish wasn’t New Yorker enough, it has English muffins, Canadian bacon, and Hollandaise sauce (sometimes called the Dutch sauce) — talk about diversity! There are many stories regarding the Eggs Benedict’s origin story but most of them agree that it was invented in New York.
Art and science may be polar opposites but there are times when they go hand in hand with each other. But you wouldn’t normally think of utilizing both studies on food, would you? But that’s what Baked Alaska is all about — it’s an art project and a science experiment that’s quite difficult to make. (The dessert is worth making, though!) They say that this sponge cake topped with torched meringue was invented by a chef from Manhattan back in the 1870s. And it’s called Baked Alaska because Alaska was the most recent state that became part of the USA.
Some food combinations may look, feel, and taste like they came from the south — but chicken and waffles are a concrete jungle masterpiece. That’s right! It was invented in a jazz club in Harlem that had patrons coming in and out non-stop. To be fair, it was a 24-hour club! That’s why their dinner menu eventually had to be tweaked to have breakfast items also — and that’s how fried chicken and waffles came to be. If you’ve been alive long enough, you probably already know about this (now-closed) jazz club that we speak of, it’s the Wells Restaurant!
You know how some geniuses are sometimes considered or mistaken for being insane? That’s probably what some thought back then when bartender Fernand “Pete” Petiot mixed French vodka with tomato juice. But he went the extra mile — the bartender made the drink NYC-“friendly.” (But “friendly” is used loosely here.) Because he also added lemon juice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. And that’s the drink we call Bloody Mary today!
Almost any immigrant experiences homesickness. And most of them would say that one of the things they miss from their home country is the food. But if you know how to cook and you have the ingredients available to you, why not recreate the same dishes you had back home? Take the Englishman from Plymouth, for example — he’s the reason why we have English muffins today! Thanks to him trying to recreate the English crumpets, he made a thinner version of it instead while he was in New York. Because of him, we get to enjoy this NYC staple.
Strolling in the streets of New York City is like having a peek at different cultures from around the world. Every once in a while, there will be these geniuses from different backgrounds that will come up with a masterpiece. Because of them, some foods and drinks will be invented in New York but with a hint of diversity and a flavor unlike any other.