Snowflakes in France

Reflections of a 20-something woman in publishing

Category: Food

Despite the cold, the lonliness is starting to melt

The wind is a little shriller these days. I even saw my breath this morning. OK so maybe it was helped along by the hot tea I was drinking, but still. Visable breath means cold. I’m hoping for snow. And lots of it.

A local friend told me that a couple years ago, the city got enough snow to shut down.

Imagine New York City, dense with snow upon snow, dense with silence. No cars, no buses or sirens, no herds of business people, actors, street vendors all moving together in a huge sidewalk blob… Well, you should try to imagine it, because I can’t.

Without the people running around like wired-up machines, this city would be a ghost town. But when you get added to the mix, how do you meet friends? It’s like trying to find your house key in Little Mermaid’s treasure collection. You know what kind of people you’re looking for, but it’s hard to single them out.

After a few months of running around with only people I know from work and then those people’s friends, I decided I needed an additional social network. Though I’m a little wary of Internet dating sites (OK, extremely wary, if you’re on one of these sites, I probably won’t date you), I found an Internet meeting site that wasn’t so scary, Meetup.com.

The concept is that you find people on the site, but don’t get to know them until you “meetup” as a large group in a public, non-scary place. Staying far away from meetup groups that might use this as a dating site against its friendly intentions, I joined a few social groups for women in their 20s — Book clubs and dinner groups.

An organizer picks a location, a Mexican restaurant, a snazzy New York diner, a coffee shop, and the time, usually corresponding to the venue’s happy hour or lady’s night specials. We “meetup,” talk about our jobs, our backgrounds and what we love/hate about New York City. We finish our food, and we leave.

If you feel uncomfortable giving out your number, no worries, because all of the planning is done through the meetup site, and you can add and remove groups at any time.

I haven’t met a new best friend, but I have found people I have fun with (more on that in the next post). And in this cold and alarmingly lonely city, there’s something warm about chit chatting with a group of young women instead of eating dinner alone by the TV in my drafty apartment.

BYOB at a restaurant?

The first time I went out to dinner in Hoboken, I walked into a sushi restaurant (what else?) with a couple of girls, one of whom suddenly said, “Oh, I forgot the wine! I’ll run next door and buy some.”

I stood there nodding in agreement. Clearly it was a faux pas to neglect bring our own wine to the restaurant. (Wait, What?)

She shows up with a $7 bottle of white, which the waiter courteously pours into our glasses before placing it in a bucket of ice for us, while I look on in amazement. Turns out, we couldn’t have ordered wine there if we tried. It’s a BYOB restaurant.

This was an entirely new concept to me. We certainly don’t have BYOB restaurants in Kentucky (parties, yes, but not restaurants). And I checked with a friend who’s staying in Idaho, and though she hasn’t seen many people drinking there in general due to the large Morman population, she assured me that they have no BYOB restaurants in Idaho either.

Not that I’m complaining. It’s so much cheaper for customers like me. Although I did have an unfortunate incident the other night when I appeared at a Mexican restaurant without Tequila and had to forego my craving for Margaritas.

But how does it benefit the restaurant? Is it really that much of a hassle to get a liquor license? There must be a cap on how many liquor licenses the government can give out. As for Kentucky, maybe it’s not legal to “brown-bag” in unlicensed restaurants. Now that would be a good law to consider revising…

If you’re thirsting for the facts, here’s the NYT take on it.

Hot in the City

I just cooked a great meal. I know, most of you are thinking that I can’t cook, you’re thinking that I put vinegar in my brownies, that I hardly know how to make grilled cheese. Trust me, this was greatness. I concocted a cucumber salad and Mexican stuffed peppers. Delicious. And all for about… $10, with left overs for at least 2 more meals. In case you’re interested, I found the recipes off this nifty little blog:

Thursday Night Smackdown

And yet, all I can think about is the heat. Did you know that the milk is dated differently for New York City? I bought a half gallon of milk last week, and the expiration date read: “SELL BY AUG 10” And then right below that in smaller letters: “IN NYC BY AUG 4.”

I wondered if Hoboken was included in “NYC.” Technically I’m in Jersey, a fact I typically like to ignore since I can see Manhattan from my office window, but when it comes to milk, and the heat for that matter, I think I’ll own to it.

As I noted to my friend Blair just the other day, I miss the Kentucky heat. The New York heat is similar — humid, blistering, consuming. But in Kentucky …it chooses where it goes and how it fills the vast air across the Bluegrass. In New York, the buildings trap the heat, which in desperation clings to people until they pour sweat, begging them to let it out. Heat in New York needs a psychologist.”

So what was I thinking when I decided to turn on the oven?

The Art of Chopsticking

Advice for New York City #1: Know how to use chopsticks

Aside from the usual adjustments — learning how to travel by subway, deleting the word “y’all” from my vocabulary, getting used to the idea of having an infinite number of bars within 10 minutes of where I’m standing at all times — there was one challenge I hadn’t considered. Chopsticks.

I have been to no less than four Asian restaurants this week. They are everywhere. The food is delicious, the aura is divine, but my attempts at eating with chopsticks is disastrous. My first experience was in a sushi bar, where everyone else picked up their chopsticks with anticipation as I nervously eyed the table, wondering where the forks were. I broke down and asked the waiter to bring me one. Since then I have finally figured out how to hold them in one hand and neatly click the ends together. But as soon as I put a spring roll in between them, everything slips awkwardly, collapses and lands in my soy sauce, splattering the surrounding white table cloth.

I’ve decided to make it my personal mission to become an expert at chopsticking. Mostly because my co-workers only had one question for me, one pre-requisite for a healthy work environment: I had to like sushi. If I were to ask for a fork every time the three of us walk into a sushi bar (which should have its own section in the Hoboken Yellow Pages because there are so many of them), I think they would stop inviting me.