Several things went into our decision to experience a different lifestyle in NYC. One was the desire to break some of our long-standing boundaries. None was stronger than the food we eat.
While we always liked spicy and well flavored food, my diet avoided anything found in the ocean, any meat other than white meat chicken, beef, and a few cuts of pork – say bacon, sausage and pork chops, anything green other than salad, celery or green beans, and anything unrecognizable. There were others as well. Tip’s circle of food was smaller than mine.
Mexican was Salvadorian or Tex-mex, Chinese was what you get at Panda Express, curry was out of the question. Burgers, steak, or white chicken, fried or broiled were our preferences. Skepticism surrounded anything outside this small box.
This week we gathered our bravado, steeled ourselves against our food fears and set out to try new foods.
We began the week in East Village, an area dubbed “Little Ukraine” at East Village Ukrainian Restaurant on 2nd Avenue between St. Mark’s place and 9th street. Nothing on the menu was recognizable.
The waitress was gruff and explained she didn’t have time to explain the food on the menu, but she did so anyway and I think she gave us a slight grin. She recommended Varenyky and Pierogi.
To hedge our bets, we decided to place two orders and split them. If only one was consumable, at least we wouldn’t go away hungry. Varenyky and blitzes were our selection. We had no idea what a blitze was but it came in blueberry and appeared in the dessert section so we figured there was a good chance we would like it.
Varenyky, as it turns out is a dumpling. It is pale, soft, wet and resembles a pot-sticker. Ours had potato and cheese. Its wet, anemic appearance caused us pause, but we bravely raised our forks, cut the dumpling and swallowed. It was better than expected. Not much flavor and a bit chewy. We ate them all. The blitzes were similar to a crepe, filled with blueberries and served with sour cream. Whipped cream would have been preferred, but they were good and we were proud to have passed this first food hurdle.