Friday, 19 March 2010
At lunchtime the other day at Ninth Avenue and 41st Street, 13 men and women stood on the sidewalk outside 99¢ Fresh, impatiently ordering and impatiently eating slices amid the ambiance of ungentrified Hell’s Kitchen: idling delivery trucks near the rear of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a barking dog named Leo someone tied up down the block, a prostitute who hurried by saying something about $150 for a half-hour and a bearded homeless man with a cane who spoke loudly to himself about the size of the average bear. He ate two slices.
Vivid, isn’t it?
You can almost smell the sweat, the aroma, and hear the screech, the jibber jabber, the grunts and feel the heat, the restlessness within this lengthy description – believe it or not – of 99 cents/US$1 pizza slices.
At my lunchtime the other day, I too, had a sampling of American Italian dishes at the Avanti. Great ambience, very affable host; sparse and polite patrons, courteous waiters - pity the soothing background music went dead slight before dessert.
My entrée was tomato clam soup which I later regretted adding black pepper; the main course red snapper fillet with sautéed Zucchini in tomato sauce (if I am not mistaken) and, walnut cheese cake for dessert.
The dish which tastes lingered long after it was finished was the walnut cheese cake which was superb. The portion was spot on – neither too extravagant nor too stingy – and it had enough richness without the fatty aftertaste.
It more than made up for the first two dishes which weren’t too bad. Good, but not lipsmacking great.
The red snapper fillet was fresh, sweet and juicy but – this is probably one down to one’s tastes – I would have loved for the skin to be crispier.
As such there were no crunchy bits in the dish, as even the Zucchini were slightly overcooked.
Back to the 99cents/US$1 pizza slices which the article emphasized as pricing anomalies in expensive New York.
It sort of places a class restriction as to whom should be patronizing the two said stalls/shops.
You can see this is the above excerpt never mind the fact it is perfectly okay – not to mention legal - for anyone to buy a 99cents a slice pizza if they feel like it.
A localized example would be that everyone and anyone can slurp cendol – seated on stools shaded by foliage from the tree that is the cendol seller’s address.
An episode of Lone Wolf and Cub saw the main character – Itto Ogami – confronted by another wandering Samurai – nickname the Headless Sakon - with this particularly philosophical look on the Japanese sake which he says is the great leveler of class.
The 99cents/US$1 pizza would thus be the symbolical modern day, New York equivalent: except that it won’t.
Realistically, being seen with the Hell’s Kitchen (Marvel’s DD not Chef Ramsey’s, please) crowd would not be something so palatable to a working New Yorker.
Back home, we have something similar going on with the Asam Pedas. FOC to the poor, apparently.
Wonder if we can have a RM1 Asam Pedas (simple rice and gravy deal) meal over here, eh?
Would be a great leveler, that.