Fur Coats (or how New York is [and is not] like Florence)

Ciao Readers!

In my last post I mentioned a trip to New York we took in January.  Part of the reason I love going to New York is because (in some ways) it reminds me of Italy (most importantly the food!).   Which got me thinking, as I often do, about the similarities and difference between places I have been (I have even compared Japan to Italy, which on its face seems absurd, but I’ll explain in some future post).  My observations are completely random and superficial, but here are some similarities and differences I couldn’t help notice while wandering the streets of New York:

Similarities:

– The sidewalks are packed with people who seem to be oblivious to anyone but themselves, their companions and/or their cells phones; stop paying attention and you will surely be mowed down!!! (though you may find it more endearing when it’s by an Italian nonna and not a man in a $10K suit….or not)

– Fur coats!  That’s right, there are at least two places left on earth where wearing full-length mink coats is not only acceptable but apparently very fashionable.  Funny, I remember thinking in Florence during the winter “parade of pelts” that you could never get away with that in the U.S. as your coat would be unceremoniously doused with red paint (or worse) immediately upon exiting your home.  Was I wrong!  I had no idea that in New York fur coats are as common and as fashionable as in Italy – who knew?!?

– Delicious Italian food (of course I have to talk about food!).  Is it wrong to travel across the country for a really good pizza? Okay, before you answer that, have you ever had a John’s pizza in New York?  Seriously, I have no idea why, but only New Yorkers and Italians know how to make really good pizza (I’ve been trying like crazy, complete with a pizza stone and “peel,” but without the 800 degree stone oven I think it’s hopeless).  And then of course are the salumerias, the lovely little places with cheeses and meats and wine (while we did enjoy a fabulous meal at Salumeria Rosi in NY [and previously at Eataly], Italy wins hands down in the availability and affordability categories).   By the way, did you know that Italy also has several “Eatalies”?  Strikes me as weird to have a specialty food shop specializing in the food of the country you are in (at thrice the price of the salumeria down the street)!!!

Differences:

– Food choices.  In Florence you can get Italian food, between the hours of 1:00p.m. and 2:30p.m. and 8:00p.m. and 11:30p.m.  Monday through Saturday.  Period.  Okay, you could also get some really sad Chinese food or a hamburger if you hunt them down (see my old “foreign food” post).  Even if you are craving a pizza, in Italy, you will likely have to hold tight till 7:30 p.m. when the pizza shop begins to come back to life (this was a regular ritual for us in Florence).  In contrast, in New York you can get whatever you want whenever you want it.  AND, you can have it delivered to you!   When we were in New York, one morning it was just too darn cold to venture out (recall it was 8 degrees), but I was craving a good old-fashioned egg bagel with cream cheese and lox.  Googling my options for close places to bundle up and run out to, a revelation hit me – these places deliver!  And viola – about 20 minutes later I had exactly what I wanted brought right to the comforts of my hotel room.  (I am fairly confident if my craving was more exotic – tom yum soup or lamb curry, that would also have arrived at my hotel room with very little fuss.)

– People choices (“diversity” as they say).  New York is truly a melting pot; people come in every shape and size and color and background and financial status…and any other category you can think of.  Walking through NY is like walking around the world, all within several city blocks.  It’s what makes New York, New York.  And – and maybe I’m being naive here – New Yorkers like it that way (technically I am a native New Yorker and I like it that way).  In contrast, Italy is populated mostly with Italians (not counting the tourists of course) and Italy would be just fine (and likely more happy) peopled with nothing but Italians (this is actually one of the ways Japan and Italy struck me as similar).

There are many more similarities and differences, but I’ll leave those for you to discover and debate.  We need to get on to the photos afterall!

I never had the chutzpah to walk around talking pictures of people in their fur coats (either in NY or Florence), though I wanted to many times.  So, instead, I thought I’d give you some more food photos (I do that a lot huh?) and let you guess which ones were taken in New York and which ones where taken in Italy (answers at the bottom).  Man, I always end up making myself hungry….

Okay, so here’s how it goes…I did a NY/Italy comparison for the first 10 photos (NY, then Italy) (btw, the Grom hot chocolate in NY is not even a close cousin to the ridiculously yummy and thick Italian cioccolata calda); the next 3 photos are all Italy (how did I not take ANY pictures of our John’s pizza in NY, especially since we ate it more than once?!); the last one is a trick question – that was our dinner in the middle of nowhere Croatia – a roasting pig….and a mystery animal….

Cheers!

If you can’t get to Italy….go to Eataly!

Now I realize not everyone reading this blog can get to Italy (which may be in part why you’re reading this – “armchair travel”).  However, if you can get to New York, you can spend the day in your own little piece of Italy – Eataly!

Eataly is this amazing Italian food meca in New York City.  And yes, it is owned by “celebrity” chefs Batali and Bastianich – but don’t hold that against it.  Walking through Eataly is as close as you’re going to get in the U.S. to walking through an Italian market/town filled with food in all its glorious forms – from a mind-boggling choice of olive oils and other “groceries,”  to hand-made pastas, to a butcher, a pasticceria AND a gelateria.  In addition to all of the food to take-away, each little section has its own bar or restaurant where you can order a glass of wine and try some of the delectables on-the-spot.  Below are photos of the hand-made pasta shop, as well as the amazing bruschetta and salumi platter we tried while we were there.  And, while I won’t lie to you and say the gelato is as good as La Sorbeteria Castiglione in Bologna, it’s as close as you’ll get this side of the pond!   If you can’t get to Eataly, they ship some items – or you can just look through their website and dream delicious foodie dreams! (There is actually an Eataly in Bologna – much smaller than the one in NY – but you can dream you are there as well!)

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