January 14, 2014

New of New York! From Zalman Silber. Hot off the Presses


zalman silber

There are many things for visitors to do in New York City. It’s the Capital of Everything, after all, whether you’re thinking of culinary delights, arts and culture, or anything else. It’s the nexus of worldwide communications and, thanks to the United Nations, the global political nerve center as well. But there is so much more about New York that escapes the typical tourist.

One can easily take in all the sights and sounds of “tourist New York” in one day – or half an hour, if you choose to board serial entrepreneur Zalman Silber’s Skyride at the Empire State Building, a simulated helicopter tour of iconic landmarks narrated by actor Kevin Bacon – but to see what makes New York truly special one ought to visit the so-called outer boroughs, particularly that of Queens County.

For nowhere else in the world are so many diverse ethnicities to be found, right next to one another. The celebrated multiculturalism of New York is often segregated into ethnic enclaves, but in the great Borough of Queens even the ethnic enclaves are diverse. So, for example, one finds African-Americans in the middle of what’s regarded as one of the city’s three Chinatowns, Flushing – which neighborhood’s eastern reaches still host many observant Jewish families on handsome tracts of private houses. And though Asian faces are very prevalent in this part of the county, one will certainly find a barely less numerous presence of Latinos and those of European backgrounds. On the other side of the borough, the neighborhood of Sunnyside is also known as a mini-UN in itself, what with its Turkish, Romanian, and Nepalese restaurants.

Indeed, Queens is the only borough other than Manhattan itself where you can find such a wide variety of cuisine – with the difference that prices in Queens are geared towards the immigrant population, as are the tastes. You want white-glove service, stick to Manhattan’s pricey celebrity-endorsed haunts. For authentic “everyman fare” such as you would find in the actual countries of origin, look no further than the ethnic restaurants of Queens.

The visual marvels belong mostly to Manhattan. With the exception of Flushing-Meadows Park, site of two World’s Fairs, Queens is a county of burghers, of the middle-class and petite bourgeoisie. But if they could somehow put aromas on brochures, you can bet that Queens County would see a much greater share of tourist traffic! As it is, Queens remains the private preserve of culinary adventurers.

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