Dude Food: Tales from the NYC Nomad’s Traveling Kitchen
We started our Dude Food series this spring in order to mix up the usual BGSK offerings with interviews and submissions for and by dudes. As you can image, having “big girls” in our name has been a bit of a deterrent for the male population. We like to think of this section as the man cave below the BGSK kitchen. If you have ideas, become a dude food contributor!
You might know Ed Casabian as “The NYC Nomad.” A year ago (officially!), Ed moved out of the apartment he was sharing with his then-girlfriend and set out to be a traveler in one of the greatest cities in the world (NYC), living one week at a time in as many different neighborhoods as possible, all the while holding down a full time job. Thirty-two neighborhoods and five boroughs later, we got to pick the Nomad’s brain on the food side of his social experiment. Read on for some of Ed’s best local food finds, and advice on how to snack in someone else’s cupboards.
–Cara and Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOKS
BGSK. I know you offer your cooking services in return for crash pads. What’s your favorite thing to make for your hosts?
Nomad. I’m half Italian so I like to make various pasta dishes, but I’ve also been known to make a good Chicken Tikka Masala. If I lived more of a life of leisure, I’d make labor-intensive Armenian (my other half) things like baklava and yalanci (stuffed grape leaves).
BGSK. We’re very protective of our kitchens. Ever run into hosts who don’t want you to set foot in theirs?
Nomad. Yes, I offered to help in Staten Island and was told to stay out of the kitchen. Similar vibe in Brooklyn Heights. I have good knife skills from cooking in kitchens during the summers on Cape Cod, but some people don’t want anyone in that space. I get it.
BGSK. What have you learned from having to cook in a new kitchen every week? Any equipment that’s commonly missing? Any tool that you can’t live without?
Nomad. Well the truth comes out. I haven’t cooked in a few months because its just too hard to figure out where everything is. But since you asked, I can’t live without a solid chef’s knife. Other things I miss from my old kitchen are an immersion blender, mortar and pestle for fresh spices, a dutch oven, a microplane grater, and a garlic press (even though Anthony Bourdain wouldn’t approve). I miss my old kitchen.
BGSK. Describe the tiniest kitchen you’ve encountered along the way. Did you cook in it?
Nomad. Nothing stands out as the tiniest kitchen because most are pretty tiny. One of the nicest and largest kitchens I’ve encountered didn’t even have any pots, plates or silverware. I brought home pie one night and we ate it with plastic forks he had left over from Chinese take out. I used to cook a lot so it’s interesting to see how infrequently many New Yorkers cook.
BGSK. How do you deal with the issue of snacking in this transitory lifestyle? Anyone ever yell at you for finishing all their Goldfish?
Nomad. Hah, I’ve become less of a snacker for sure. I was carrying around beef jerky from Slant Shack for a while. That stuff is delicious. I love food, but my sister describes me as a “food camel” and I can go for really long periods without eating. I will admit I’ve snuck a few snacks after being out late. I ate a noticeable amount of Nilla Wafers when I stayed in NoHo, but I’m not sure my host noticed. Most people are very generous with the food, but I try not to snack too much. I think I eat healthier as a result.
BGSK. If you happened to be nomad-ing at the apartment of a very cute single girl you were interested in, what would you make her? (Has this happened??)
Nomad. I’d probably go to a pasta dish with some nice wine. Penne alle vodka, perhaps. I like simple dishes with excellent ingredients where you can really taste the food. But I like to keep the nomadding and romance separate.
BGSK. Are there any eating-at-home alone habits you can’t indulge in now that you are a nomad? Any kitchen or eating practices you miss from sedentary life?
Nomad. Hmmm. It’s been so long. I used to like eating Haagen Dazes out of the container on occasion.
BGSK. What’s your favorite neighborhood food find so far?
Nomad. So many good questions! The best food block for restaurants in NYC is 7th between 1st and A. Luke’s Lobster, Caracas, Pylos, that oyster place. I also really enjoyed being in Prospect Heights near the farmers’ market.
BGSK. Do you ever bring your hosts food-related gifts as a thank you? If so, what are some of your go-to’s?
Nomad. I’m generally at capacity with all my stuff when I’m actually moving, but I’ve brought things from different places including from as far as Peru ! When I’m actually in the neighborhood I like to pick up little splurges like nice cheese or chocolate or something that people might not otherwise buy for themselves.
BGSK. Go-to man meal?
Nomad. A burger at JG Melon’s. I need to explore the steakhouses of NYC. Any dudes out there who are willing to host, we can get a meal at Strip House. Dudes are less into hosting the nomad for some reason.
BGSK. Any food quirks?
Nomad. I can’t believe I’m going to share this, but I can’t stand the sound of someone biting into an apple. It gives me the chills just thinking about it. I try to get over it every six months or so by eating an apple, but I think it just makes it worse.