In our office neighborhood of Chinatown, food is front and center. That's more than some good restaurants—streets and businesses here all run to the beat of the buying, selling, cooking, and eating.
In Chinatown you see food in every phase of life. There are fish in aquariums and frogs croaking in trash cans. Lobsters are plunged into pots and chickens are butchered on worn counters. Produce is trucked in, sold, and eaten all within street view—and you'll find the remains of peels and seeds strewn along the gutters.
Meanwhile, locals eat noodles on street corners while tour groups wander by on their way to dim sum. Restaurants put their best-looking roast meats in windows while old ladies hawk rice balls for a dollar outside. As you walk down certain quiet streets you can peer into kitchens as teams of cooks toss woks, fry dumplings, and chop up meat for hungry diners.
Some of this is pretty. Some of it isn't. But Chinatown is inarguably one of New York's visual treasures, from the smallest dried mushrooms to the wide, chaotic street scenes. To capture the incredible color, texture, and movement that so characterizes the neighborhood and its approach to food, we asked photographer Clay Williams to hit the streets from morning until night and document the ways food comes to life in Chinatown. Take a peek at the slideshow for the full image gallery, then tell us: what's your strongest Chinatown food memory?