Sometimes, I panic-eat.
Buried in a heap of hastily-crammed moving boxes and facing the end of my time in NYC, I could no longer tell whether I was surrounded by a pile of valuable personal effects, or a decomposing mountain of trash that had inexplicably cluttered my NYC apartment for three years. I started to feel claustrophobic surrounded by all of this garbage, and I thought that I might feel better if I ate something. Like a garbage plate.
So I sent panicky text messages to every sexy, slender person I knew in NYC. Especially the ones from Rochester, NY, home of the legendary Rochester garbage plate. And really, what’s more American than something called a garbage plate?
The garbage plate, in case you’ve never tried one, is a truly American work of art. It consists of a base of macaroni salad and fried potatoes, topped with either two hot dogs or two cheeseburgers, and then the whole mess is slathered with diced onions, mustard, and a spicy beef sauce. So it’s, like, low in fat and calories, and is perfect for helping you build that statuesque six-pack that looks great on the beaches of Rochester.
The original garbage plate was created by Rochester’s own Nick Tahou Hots, which serves the stuff as a cheap way for Rochester partiers to fill their alcohol-soaked bellies. My Rochester pals tell me that a true garbage plate should cost less than $7, be incredibly greasy, and be served in a Styrofoam container.
The New York City garbage plate, served only at Daddy-O in the West Village, is a more refined affair, served on actual plates for $14. And it’s not even particularly greasy. That’s weird, and probably blasphemous.
It was delicious, though. Who wouldn’t love a plate with two cheeseburgers, meaty hot sauce, fried potatoes, and macaroni salad? God bless America!
But I wasn’t done panic-eating. Moving is stressful. Food is not. More food means less stress, or at least a food coma severe enough that you can’t feel the stress anymore. So I zipped over to the East Village outlet of Moustache, a small chain best known for its “pitzas.” As far as I know, Moustache is NYC’s only remaining Iraqi-owned restaurant, now that Hells Kitchen’s short-lived La Kabbr restaurant is no longer with us.
(And yes, I realize that it’s, like, kind of ironic that I panic-ate American and Iraqi food in the same night. Call it panic-eating for international peace if you want.)
To my chagrin, nearly everything on Moustache’s menu was standard, familiar Middle Eastern fare—hummus and kabobs and schwarma, in addition to the pitzas. None of the dishes stood out as uniquely Iraqi, so I checked the Wikipedia entry on Iraqi cuisine; tabouleh salad was at the top of the page, so I ordered some. The serving was runty for $6, but it was phenomenally fresh, with finely-diced mint, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bulgur wheat.
For my main course, I went for the ouzi, which was probably the least-familiar Levantine dish on Moustache’s menu. It was pretty damned tasty, with golden raisins, peas, white and dark meat chicken, onions, and carrots in a pocket of phyllo dough that was pulled straight from a giant oven. The ouzi was served with a light yogurt-cucumber sauce, not unlike a pleasantly runny, not-too-garlicky tadziki sauce.
I was impressed by the ouzi, though it was arguably overpriced ($15). But it’s all good. If nothing else, I felt far calmer after a bout of international panic-eating. And sometimes a good food coma is all you need to heal from the pain of cramming useless crap into moving boxes.
Yes, I moved. United Nations of Food (NYC) will be on hiatus until December, while I eat my way through Hawaii, Myanmar, Indonesia, Colorado, Laos, Australia, Thailand, California, and Hong Kong… but probably not in that order.
44 Bedford Street, West Village
Subway: W. 4th St. (A, B, C, D, E, F, M trains) or Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq. (1 train)
265 East 10th Street, East Village
Subway: Astor Place (6 train)