A couple of years ago, I was walking alone through Rome’s Piazza del Popolo when a stranger handed me a trio of roses. With his other hand, he tied a braid of multicolor thread around my wrist. “With this bracelet, I bless you,” he said. “Tonight you will have the best meal of your life. Within a year you will meet the love of your life. And within a decade you’ll return to Italy at least twice.”
The exchange cost me €10 and a not insignificant slice of my dignity. I, a New Yorker, had been scammed three hours into a three-week-long stay in Italy.
New Yorkers do not scam easily. While walls dominate the political conversation, most of us New Yorkers still believe in bridges. While fears of ISIS and Zika and other horrors-du-jour fill our newsfeeds, most of us still dare to explore the world. Perhaps better than anyone, New Yorkers know we’re all more alike than different. And we’re alike, also, in the way we gather around food.
Perhaps better than anyone, New Yorkers know we’re all more alike than different. And we’re alike, also, in the way we gather around food.
The collection of stories in this issue illustrates the common threads that bind us. A Cuban restaurant in Huntington Station prepares plantains with the same care and precision as a chef prepares pumpkin in Uruguay. A photographer travels through the Balkans with the same reverence and enthusiasm as a husband-and-wife team of writers travels across the East End in search of craft beer. Families and friends gather around tables at a Dominican restaurant in Farmingdale just as families and friends enjoy paella together in Valencia. Everyone everywhere feels the gravitational pull of the dinner table. It is something to which we all return again and again.
The night that Roman stranger tied that bracelet around my wrist, I did enjoy one of the best meals of my life—prepared and served by an international cast of nuns that sang “Ave Maria” together in the middle of the dining room at the end of the night. Six months later, I met the man I’m going to marry in just over a year. All I’m waiting for now are those two return trips to Italy. In the meantime, there’s more than enough to nourish me here.
So, grab a seat at the table. I’ll pour us some wine.
Edible East End & Edible Long Island