After 3 years of living in Brooklyn, I still get asked by relatives in California if I’d ever move back. My answer is always no. I have many reasons to stay here – my career, Joey, my sister, etc. But let’s face it – the bottomline is I simply like BK more. It fulfills my desire to have access to different groups of people and if you’ve known me long enough, you’d know that I love to eat different foods. Just ask Joe or my sister – most of the time I’m eating or cooking something foreign (Filipino food at the top of that list). BK + vettie vette = a happy marriage.
Since I started my new job in Boro Park – I travel through four neighborhoods on a daily basis. Coming from my house I hop on the B38 around 7 at Dekalb and I see Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill, and Fort Greene before jumping on the train at Dekalb and Flatbush. At around 8ish I arrive in Boro Park. The varying topography and populations in these four neighborhoods are a testament to BK’s physical size and diversity.
Of the nearly 8.2 million residents in NewYork City, 2.5 million call Brooklyn home. Don’t let the numbers scare you. Brooklyn isn’t crowded, residents, myself included, have plenty of room to spread our wings. Each neighborhood providing different tastes of the immigrants, native Brooklynites , and newbies from other cities/states that inhabit it. I know it’s hard to imagine how I can find a niche that reminds me of California, but this is New York. As a friend once said – one can find a niche of anything here.
When I land in Boro Park amidst the Hasidic boys and girls running to make it to their yeshivas on time, I walk into a little diner on 61st Street and 16th Avenue across from the bowling alley. On the outside it looks like any ornery diner you’d find all over the city, but once you pass your nose is tinged with the smell of…fresh tamales. TAMALES? How could this be? And yes these tamales are made from scratch by the Mexican family that owns the place. HEAVEN. It makes a native Californian-Brooklynite-foodie like me swoon.
Mexicans are one of the fastest growing immigrant populations in New York City. They’re not just in Boro Park, but have established homes in Bensonhurst, Bushwick, and Red Hook. Go to Red Hook Park on any given weekend and you will see Mexicans and other South American groups playing futbol or their form of volleyball – tossing a soccerball over a net. The fields are lined with hotdog carts and coolers, that aren’t equipped with franks, but with tamales, tacos, tortas and other Mexican fare. They’re good and cheap.
All this is just a bus or subway ride away from my doorstep. Why would I ever leave?