I couldn't resist. Boston Globe food editor Sheryl Julian asked me to write a piece for her paper explaining why New York food is so good and what I love about it. She had seen my post explaining New York's obvious food superiority over Boston and took good-natured umbrage at it. So in today's Boston Globe Julian and I go at it point counterpoint-style about the food in our respective cities.
Let me summarize the arguments for you:
Why Is New York's Food Superior?
The huge presence of three sub-populations here: immigrants, chefs, and artisanal food purveyors.
The immigrants have given the new world many of our major food groups: pizza, pastrami, bagels, cheesecake, hot dogs.
The chefs have created a competitive restaurant and food scene in New York that is unmatched in size and scope anywhere in the world, much less in smallish Boston.
The artisanal food purveyors have set standards that the rest of the nation is just catching up to when it comes to things like bread, sausage, and baked goods.
Boston (actually in order to bolster her case she includes all of New England) has given us fried clams, the definitive roast beef sandwich (Kelly's), lobster rolls, and ice cream.
I'll give her the nod on the Ipswich (not Boston) fried clams and maybe the lobster roll, though Rebecca Charles's lobster roll at Pearl, which Charles admits was inspired by her childhood summers spent in Maine, might be superior to any found in Boston these days. But the Kelly's roast beef sandwich is more a romantic notion than a truly delicious thing, at least in my experience.
What about the ice cream claim? Though Boston may be better known for its ice cream purveyors than New York, these days I believe Julian would be hard-pressed to find any ice cream in Beantown as good as the creamy, intensely flavored gelato one can find at Otto or the Shake Shack's celestial frozen custard. Julian intimates that Boston is the historic home of American ice cream. But as I found out when I researched ice cream in Gotham for a New York Times story on the subject an ice cream shop advertised in a local paper here in 1777. According to Julian, Bailey's, the first ice cream shop in Boston, didn't open until 1878, more than a hundred years later.
So now the time for yapping is over. It's time to play the game and eat. I'm going to be eating a Bo Ssam feast from David Chang's Ssam Bar, which features a whole pork shoulder, chicken wings, kewpie slaw, house-made pickles, and kim chi, the likes of which cannot be found in Boston or anywhere in New England, for that matter. I did notice that Julian has not disclosed what she will be eating come game time. And if the game turns out badly for my beloved Giants and I have to send Julian a Russ & Daughters smoked fish platter (I win a couple of lobsters if the Giants prevail), at least I'll have eaten well. And, oh yes, I'll also be secure in the knowledge that the Red Sox, even after their two recent World Series victories (they've now won 7), only need to win another 19 world championships to match the Yankees' total of 26.
Many thanks to the gracious and talented Sheryl Julian for engaging in this good-natured food-and-sports scrum.