How Urban Development Shaped the Way 19th-century New Yorkers Ate

“New York City is famous for its food culture, whether it’s a $500 tasting menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a bodega bacon, egg, and cheese. It’s possible to find food from every corner of the world, no matter how obscure. Restaurants make, and sometimes unmake, entire neighborhoods.

This is a city that eats out. But that wasn’t always the case. Rewind just over 200 years, when New York was caught between being a Dutch colony and a city, and dining out was a rarity. As the city urbanized, how its residents ate profoundly changed.

An oyster cart, circa 1885

“Food serves as a nice medium to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of New York City history,” says Victoria Flexner, the founder of Edible History, a supper club that creates dinners themed around specific historical moments. Recently Flexner and chef Jay Reifel hosted a meal at the James Beard House that told the story of New York City’s urban development in the 19th century through how its residents dined out.

As the city became rapidly industrialized in the 19th century, a new system emerged to feed these workers: the mobile food cart.

While politicians, businessmen, and other white-collar workers went to oyster cellars and restaurants for their midday meals, lunch came to the working class. Vendors would park outside of factories and docks and, for a few pennies, would sell items like gingerbread, yams, oysters, and corn.”

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CBD-Infused Food and Drinks Have Been Banned From NYC Restaurants and Bars

“If you’ve been relying on a smidgen of CBD oil in your latte to relax after a long day at work, you might want to look into alternative methods of decompression (at least temporarily).

According to the New York Daily News, as of Tuesday, the New York City Department of Health is prohibiting restaurants and bars from selling any and all perishable products containing cannabidiol (or CBD, for short), a compound found in marijuana purported to have therapeutic effects.

This might seem dire, but the ruling was basically inevitable. When it comes to the ever-fluctuating invocations of cannabis law, state governments aren’t going to take any chances with validating CBD oil as a safe ingredient until the compound is confirmed to be harmless on a federal level. CBD oil was banned from Californian food last July, and authorities in Maine are taking steps to strip businesses of the marijuana-adjacent treats this week.”

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Chinese Noodles From a Chile-Haunted Region

“The rise of Sichuan food in New York has made the past decade or two a glorious era for prowlers of Chinese restaurants. Chongqing chicken and mung-bean jelly proliferated as skilled chefs flocked to the city. But while the miles of dan dan noodles and mountains of Sichuan peppercorns have been exhilarating, they have tended to overshadow the cuisine of another great chile-haunted region, Hunan.”

“When people in Hunan get hungry for a bowl of noodles, what they have in mind are mifen: long, white strands made from pounded rice, so smooth they may slither right out of the chopsticks of inexperienced slurpers. Chances for New Yorkers to practice their antiskid chopstick techniques have been limited, generally speaking, to the rice noodles of other parts of Asia. When you could find Hunanese noodles around town, they tended to be tucked away on larger menus with so many other Hunanese opportunities that they were rarely given a chance to slither.”

Read more here.