Food in New York

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Even in a city where its citizens eat while walking in the streets, wheres restaurants have been known to overcharge tourists just because they don't know better, where a lot of diners treat customers as if they were table numbers instead of people; even there is food a fundamental part of every tourist experience.

New York has had the (easily demonstrable) reputation of being the city where you can do and find anything. It can live up to it. Use this guide to find how food is viewed and prepared here and what does the New York taste like.

The Food of Many Colors

Hot Dogs

In New York, very little indigenous culture survives. Food, like absolutely everything else in the city, has all been a complex composition of different cultural layers. So in New York you can easily feed off dishes named after different countries -- Italian, Indian, Creole, Chinese... In fact, entire areas are devoted to one type of food, puzzling the tourist accostumed to sampling native food as a way to approach a new culture.

It may seem there's very little food exclusively associated with the city.

This is wrong. There are some inventions and refinements that took place exclusively here, where immigrants serving to fellow immigrants perfected a dish they had imported for their home countries. Thus, the Eastern European immigrants brought with them the concept of Deli even though it never tasted as good or was as perfected as the plates served in New York.

Concept Deli

The same thing happened with hot dogs. Germans very proudly claim to have invented the sausage (a claim which has many historical facts backing it up). And yet, it wasn't until the fantastic theme park in Coney Island opened and a man called Charles Feltman started putting these sausages on a bun that they became hot dogs. Feldman was a visionary. Not only did he create one of the very few indigenous New York dishes, but he also got rich from it.

People who went to Coney Island were not particularly wealthy -- they could barely afford a subway ride, so a sit-down meal was out of the question -- so they bought his invention like crazy. He sold 3,684 hot dogs in his first year alone. New York history was made in true New York fashion. The rest of America copied his invention but the spirit of hot dogs remains where where the original German population brought them.

This started the New York culture of eating as you walk, which has since evolved to other food and the very New Yorker sight or people walking as they sip their coffee, which in turn helped the boost of the Starbucks coffee stores in the 1980s.

Something similar happened to pizza, an invention associated with Italy if there ever was one, but very serendipitously perfected in New York to unsuspected limits thanks to the quality of its water -- the best quality water in almost all of the U.S., which to this creates a fantastically delicious crust which has led to the denomination "New York pizza" as a sign both of style and of quality.

New York is a phenomenal place for food. It is also a tremendously big place and it is just as phenomenally full of places with bad food. You just need to know what to look for and where to look for it.

Use this guide to help you.