There is skinny, and then there is New York skinny. I suspect you aren’t considered to be skinny in New York unless you are actually a waif. I assume that term comes from wafer thin? Just to be clear, skinny is not a status I desire. Having another school mum come up to me and say ‘wow, you look fit’ that rocks my world, that’s exactly how I want to be seen.
It became clear that an American size 0 (that’s a 4 here in Australia) really is the ultimate goal for many fashionable ladies in NYC. If not 00, part of me can’t quite believe that size actually exists and what’s more people strive to wear it.
What I was horrified by was the way in which many fashion conscious Ney York ladies apparently maintain their weight. They don’t seem to eat, well, not in public anyway. What shocked me equally is that it wasn’t just the ladies who didn’t appear to be eating it was the men too.
Our first morning in NYC we breakfasted at Balthazar, a reasonably well known French restaurant in SoHo. My bowl of latte, French toast and bacon with a side of berries was just what I needed to fuel me for the day of shopping we had planned. I was hungry and I ate every last bit. The fresh berries were especially delicious.
At the table next to us were a man and woman, probably doing business over a late breakfast, with barely touched bowls of fruit and yoghurt pushed to the side. It didn’t seem quite right to me.
The following night we returned to Balthazar for dinner. By the time we got there I could have eaten a horse I was so hungry. We had an 11pm booking after a Yankees game. I hadn’t eaten at the baseball because there wasn’t a single thing on offer that I remotely felt like eating. We’d walked 15kms from SoHo to Battery Park and up the Westside to Chelsea that day.
We ordered the last of the fish special. It was a whole salt dough baked fish served with saffron rice, bok choy and a lemon buerre blanc and it was seriously yum. We devoured it when it finally arrived to our table after its 45 minutes lead time. It was worth waiting for.
Being a fashionable place they pack the tables together at Balthazar. The couple next to us were dining on steaks with pommes frites and something green and wilted. The lady, about my age, and of reasonably slight build and stature had eaten maybe 5 bites of her steak and perhaps a frite? I can’t say for sure because I didn’t see her eat one and the pile of them is pretty large so if she had eaten four or five there wouldn’t have been an appreciable dent. Her dining companion hadn’t eaten much more.
Part of me really wanted to ask if I could try.
When the waiter eventually came and cleared their plates, maybe he was waiting for them to eat their dinner too, he asked if they wanted to see the dessert menu and told them it would be on the house. WTF? Obviously his mother never told him that you had to eat all your dinner if you wanted dessert too.
So, they ordered some. And, I watched in great pain as they picked at them. I put more on each spoonful when I started feeding my babies solids than this lady had on hers. It was criminal.
Is this really how women in New York stay so thin? Perhaps the absence of carbs in their diet explains their propensity not to smile and appear so critical of the world? The lady next to us at Balthazar seemed generally bored with life, or perhaps she was just sick of her date talking about himself? If they weren’t actually hungry why not order a salad instead? Or at least just split the one steak? It’s the waste of food that pissed me off as much as anything else, it’s both excessive and unnecessary. Do people go to these places to pretend to eat and be seen. I don’t understand.
The next night at La Esquina we saw a repeat performance of the New York diet as the tables of women around us picked at their food without actually eating much.
Sunday night we decided to eat in the restaurant of our apparently quite trendy hotel. I am more than impressed with Steven for choosing such a great place to stay. There was a modelling shoot in the courtyard our last day there and I am fairly certain I was in the lift with a female singer or rap artist. I couldn’t tell you who it was but she had two minders, was en route to the penthouse and had that ‘don’t fuck with me, I’m famous’ look about her.
It was an Italian trattoria styled menu. Steven had pasta and I ordered tuna. I’ll start by saying that my dinner was delicious. Slices of tuna on neatly shaped pieces of watermelon with some delightful basil infused oil and a few pinenuts. It was great and I am sure I will endeavour to create a dish inspired by it during summer. However, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t leave me hungry. The dessert menu wasn’t really that fantastic, and I suspect we were scared that all we would be served was a flourish and a breath of thin air, so we decided to venture a few blocks east to Little Italy for cannoli.
It didn’t take long to find the home of both New York’s, and, reportedly the world’s best cannoli.
We weren’t about to do the research to either confirm nor deny the New York claim. However, the world claim is completely trumped by my favourite lunchtime coffee place Caparezza. Their cannoli are better than the best in the world.
We ventured in and ordered a cannoli tasting plate each, we later agreed that the peanut butter one was the best. I asked for a skinny latte, the waitress said ‘we only have whole milk’...I thought she said ‘we only have cold milk’. Confused, we clarified things and I ordered a macchiato. I don’t like whole milk. Clearly there are others who think New York women need a bit more substance in their bellies and are quietly waging war by shunning the skinny stuff.
How does it make you feel seeing good food go to waste? What’s the best restaurant meal you have had lately? Do you prefer custard or ricotta in your cannoli and is peanut butter filling a criminal twist on a classic?