New York City, where I grew up and where I still spend lots of my time, is a great food city. What it is not is a great street food city. Yes, we have hot dogs, halal, and coffee carts for breakfast on the run, but compared to street food meccas like Bangkok, Mexico City, or Istanbul—well, again, we’re not great.
There are some exceptions, of course, and none better than the people (often women) who sell tamales from small carts, often alongside things like pozole and esquites (warm grilled corn salad served in a Styrofoam cup). The tamales are stored in big metal pots, coolers, or some vessel hidden inside a heavy black trash bag, and delivered hot. Honestly, eating a steaming tamale on the corner or while walking to wherever you’re going next—it’s kind of magical.
We produce reported pieces, profiles, interviews, and rants about what’s broken in the food world (there’s a lot) and how to change things for the better. People sometimes tell me to just keep politics out of it. Respectfully: No. Food is political. We can’t and won’t ignore that.