I had a chance to visit the beautiful New York city during a conference last year in summer. It was the first time that I was visiting the US. For an Indian generation where most of us have either been to the US for work, or studied there, or are living there, or are married to people who live there; my first visit actually happened quite late in life since I don’t fall into any of the above categories. I had somehow heard a lot more stories about the West coast from relatives and friends and my better half, making the eastern side slightly elusive for me. And when I asked my father what I should get from there, his answer was to try to get something that’s original and uniquely made in that region. Indeed for me a bigger element of interest in any city is its traditional practices more than what urbanized modern day routines have done to it. And thus began my quest to look for something ‘Made in USA’ and representative enough of the east coast and New York. A few suggestions by friends led me to the Maple syrup. Over generations it’s made through tapping of Maple trees. The cold and warm weather cycles in this region enable its production. Though originally from Canada I guess, this syrup in made extensively in different parts of this region; and a couple of locals told me about region-wise compositions from different parts of north east America and Canada. The maple syrup is a smooth sweet unique accompaniment to food. It is rich, it is full of substance, and it has a very unique taste that’s unmatched with any other. Mind you it’s loaded with calories and so consuming it definitely comes with a fair share of deposit to your pre (or non) existing fat. Simply put, it has a unique awesomeness that comes with a maintenance price. And that is why this food item completely represents NYC in my mind.
The uniqueness of the Maple syrup parallels that of New York. Tall skyscrapers in Manhattan bearing the hundreds and thousands of offices. The busy New York Penn station. The equally busy but more charming Grand Central station. Thousands of ambitious working people thronging to these stations. A fashionable working class in definition. Lots of passionate street artists. The elegantly marked streets and avenues. It is GRAND! There’s an age independent representation of glamour, fashion and ambition to the working people here. Whether it’s the people or the architecture, the message with NY is clear – You better be awesome enough to fit in here!! Take the efforts to be awesome and full of quality, and the city will shower you with success. And that’s what the Maple syrup also conveys. This syrup adds a beautiful taste to toasts, waffles, desserts, fruits, even salads! But only if you add it to the right kind of ingredients. Do not expect the maple syrup to rectify and beautify any messed up combination of foods – it demands a check on the composition and quality of ingredients before contributing to addition of taste. And just like that you should not expect NY to accept anything less than the most grand and classy!!
We use the Maple syrup often in the kitchen. And every drop of it makes me think of NYC. Among the many souvenirs that I got from there, this is the only one that gives me a feeling of bringing back a part of NYC with me 🙂 In a slightly unconventional use of the phrase, may I say NYC has surely made a way to my heart through the stomach 🙂