Roommates, Tradition, and Smoked Chicken Breast
This year, halfway through my Junior year at NYU, I finally moved into my own apartment off-campus. Located in the East Village, it is cacophonous, raucous, unrelentingly eventful–that's to say, perfect. I live with two girls, and in the short time we’ve spent living together thus far, I can honestly say that we’ve made our home…our home. We can cook three separate meals in our tiny oven at once, weaving in and out of each other uninterrupted without missing a step. Our fridge is a gorgeous snapshot of each of us, the snacks we crave, the food we cook, the dairy or non-dairy milk we pour in our coffee half-asleep each morning. I am constantly amused by the strenuous work of our kettle, whom we have lovingly named Charlie, and the constant flipping of his switch off and on, a peaceful rhythm that sustains throughout the day. We eat together, we feed each other, we pick up groceries for each other when we’re at Trader Joe’s or the bodega, we question which bag of kale is ours, we share cutlery, coffee and counter space.
And slowly, small traditions that bring us together have fallen into place. Until it recently ended, Tuesday nights were reserved for (should I be ashamed to admit it?) The Bachelor (I’m not). Each Wednesday, my two roommates embark on a pilgrimage to a new ice cream store somewhere across Manhattan, from Morgenstern’s to Ample Hill Creamery to Caffe Panna. My favorite, however, is Saturday mornings at the Union Square Greenmarket.
We’ve been going since moving in at the end of January, and no matter how exhausted, how much work, how hungover we may be, each Saturday we find ourselves in Union Square surrounded by bread and produce and meat and dairy, come rain or shine. We have our favorite stalls, too. AJ beelines for a certain meat stall, with an order I could tell you in my sleep – two smoked chicken breasts, and if they’ve run out, one smoked turkey breast. Alana is a little more freelance, disappearing into the crowds and coming back holding some new food item she wants to try. I browse the vegetables. I was puzzled for many weeks by a rutabaga, a word and thing I don’t think I’d ever seen before. When Alana bought one and it sat in our fridge for several days, my bewilderment grew more and more pressing. I Googled it. “SWEDE!” I exclaimed. In the UK, we have a different word for it. It is small things like this which the Greenmarket gives me, inclusivity and education about my new home, and a subtle recognition of the way that I have grown away from my old one.
From the Greenmarket, we’ve accumulated root vegetables, we’ve got various soups and chilis in our freezer, we have a blossoming collection of apple butter and mustard and jam, we always have organic eggs, the aforementioned smoked chicken, and some questionably pasteurized whole milk that is maybe a little too strong for cereal and may or may not have sat untouched in our fridge for a week before it separated and coagulated…. We live and we learn, and we go back to the Market each time.
As a Brit, the farmer’s market teaches me so much about seasonal produce and the mechanics of agriculture in American society. I am so impressed with the dedication of those New Yorkers who, in spite of the ease and accessibility of bodegas and supermarkets in Manhattan, still assimilate the Greenmarket into their schedule each week. Standing in-between the honey and the maple syrup, I can see how much people still value quality, choosing to purchase from Bread Alone directly rather than pick up a packaged loaf from Whole Foods.
Traditions are a brilliant, gorgeous, wonderful thing, and I am lucky to have this small part of my week that brings me so much joy, reminds me of the importance of nourishment and self-care, the ability to support small businesses, and most importantly, reminds me that food is everything.
Me and my roommate with part of this Saturday's haul