Hot dogs. Brats. Wieners. I’m not a huge fan of these foreign creatures, unless they’re the ones my mom gets, which are 100% beef (I’m Jewish), and nitrate free (duh it’s my mother). My 10th grade math teacher called me a wiener once. This was in class, in front of my peers (judgmental teenagers), after seeing me eat a hot dog for lunch. I get embarrassed quite easily, and I also think my skin is naturally a rosy-tint, so I was bright red for the duration of the class period. Yes, Demi Lovato, my cover-up definitely let it show.
Anyways, I feel like I’ve heard the caution, “don’t buy food from street vendors,” a time or two. Kind of like how you’re not supposed to eat bar-peanuts? G-E-R-M-Y? But the LOCALS do it! How am I expected to blend when I am avoiding what comes naturally—hunger? Monkey see, monkey do…when in Rome I guess! I was down in Madison Square Garden wandering around the glorious little park and looking for something to eat. I came upon an outdoor marketplace type of thing with tons of booths, food, and beverage vendors. There were hundreds of grills and people exchanging dollar bills for what looked like mouthwatering barbeque kabobs.
The chicken kabobs looked the best, and I reckoned that since everyone else was purchasing them, they’d most likely be harmless. I had to do it. I window-shopped a little and stumbled upon a multi-cultural parade. Dancers in elaborate costumes were riding on oversized floats that were highly decorated with prideful ethnic items. I watched the parade and ate my skewered snack while the sun beamed down on me. Life was goooood. Madison Square Park is an amazing place, great for dates (not that I have any dates to go on so far), picnics, sunbathing (people were actually out on the lawn wearing only swimsuits in the middle of the city!), people watching, or eating.
I decided to go back to my apartment to get out of the 90-degree weather for a little bit. THEN it hit me. Either the imminent hangover from my 21-run was finally kicking in, or that chicken was not agreeing with my digestive system. I’m sure it was a combination of both, but it was definitely triggered by that stick of meat. I had to lie down. I definitely had a premonition of this meat negatively affecting me, but I chose to put my fears aside and DO as the New-Yorkers do. It tasted really good, but I don’t think my stomach is used to such heavy, greasy food. Living on your own forces you to eat the basics—Fruits, vegetables, and bread. Plus, I can barely turn my oven/stove on for five minutes before I alter my apartment into a sweat lodge.
I chatted to some of the people I met over the weekend when they asked me how I was doing the day after my birthday. I told them about my encounter with the street-vendor meat and they laughed. “Oh no, you bought street-meat?!” The mere fact that it’s been locally termed “street meat” just makes it seem like a h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e idea. They chuckled at me a little before they said, “don’t worry, you will be fine. We all fall into the street-meat trap at one point or another.” It seems like such a great idea while you’re looking at it sizzling on the grill. “It was your first time, but I hate to tell you, it definitely won’t be your last!” Here’s to being a crowd pleaser, going with the flow, and eating street meat many times during my stay in the city.
Alena Netia Horowitz