Even moving to New York City from small-town Pennsylvania requires giving up certain localized delicacies (and yes, we’re told there are delicacies in rural Pennsylvania). But coming half way around the world means giving up those things which are most familiar. They say you can get everything in New York, but can you?
Rajib Where I hailed him: West Village Where he hails from: Bangladesh Years as a cabbie: 3 Previous profession: Student Ok. What I miss is my sister’s Kalia. My mother showed her how to make it. Here — nobody does right. The mixture is not right. It is meat and potatoes. What does she use? Usually chicken. Yes, she is still living in Bangladesh. It is possible she may come. Yes, I would be glad.
Slawomir Where I hailed him: Midtown East Where he hails from: Poland Years as a cabbie: 10 Previous profession: Contractor I miss nothing about the food in Poland. Very mediocre. My mother? Not much of a cook. New York has much better food — I can get whatever I want. I do well for myself. I own the medallion; I drive when I like. I eat wherever I like. Sure, Nobu, Masa — the best places. I drive a cab, but I like to eat well. New York is a good place for that, ok? Do you see what I mean? If I liked the cooking so much I wouldn’t have come here. They can have it.
Tahir Where I hailed him: Union Square Where he hails from: Pakistan Years as a cabbie: 2 Previous profession: Convenience store Mostly I miss the tea from home and the kebabs – the delicious kebabs that my wife makes at home. It’s a chicken kebab. Here when I eat there are places to go — I go to 36th and Ninth and sometimes over on 12th Street and First Avenue, and then there are small delis, but that is not the same. But now my wife is here and she can make the kebab for me (laughs). It is just like my home here in America — my family is here, my wife makes all the same food. Only during work it is a little bit of a problem — we work 8, 10, 11 hours in a row, so during that time we have to adjust.
Syed Where I hailed him: East Village Where he hails from: Pakistan Years as a cabbie: 19 Previous profession: Always a driver We miss a lot of food. Especially as a driver, we don’t have time. We just stop, get a piece of pizza, you know, and then when we go home we are so tired, we just have some coffee and go to bed. Ha — there are so many things that I can’t remember now. You can get everything here that you would at home, but it doesn’t taste the same — oh, no — I don’t know why it is. The weather maybe? But it is not the same. Right now, though, Afghanistan has the best food around. I don’t like Indian curry, Pakistani curry, forget it. In Queens — Jackson Heights, the best Afghani food is there — at 69th and Roosevelt.
Omar Where I hailed him: Lower East Side Where he hails from: Algeria Years as a cabbie: 5 Previous profession: Substitute teacher There are a couple of dishes that I guess maybe I can get them here, but it doesn’t taste the same. I don’t know why, but for some reason it doesn’t. For example, I used to eat couscous every week at home, but here I have to drive all the way out to Astoria to get it, and it still is not the same. Mostly it’s the couscous that I miss. The best Algerian food in New York? There is one on Steinway Street in Astoria. I can’t remember the name. I can see the sign, but I can’t remember the name. I go there all the time.