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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wonderful New York

It's not that people in New York City are assholes.

It's simply that they have forgotten how to be polite.

Case(s) in point --

Yesterday the following took place during a normal day in the city:
  • I held the door open for an elderly woman at a bakery so she could enter before me. A young man rushed passed both of us and said 'thank you', despite the fact he clearly saw I was holding the door for the older woman.
  • Two children were standing at the top of a subway platform in Queens - one was 2 and one was 3 - and both were crying and shaking terribly. Throngs of people passed and no one said anything to the kids or asked if they were okay. I stopped, asked where their Mommy or Daddy were. The older boy pointed to his elderly Mother at the base of the stairs. She was struggling to lift her stroller. Throngs of people passed her and didn't stop. I ran downstairs, helped her with the stroller and made sure she was set and on her way.
  • At my job, someone forgot to confirm an appointment because their daughter broke their leg. A person who shall go unnamed at my office demanded I force them to come to the meeting despite what happened to their daughter. I told this unnamed executive I didn't want to be a jerk to this person whose daughter broke their leg. The executive replied, "You're losing your edge. I thought you were a New Yorker."
  • Three times I entered stores and all three times no one held the door open after them, but instead, rushed ahead, never once looking behind them.
And as I was about to publish this, this just happened to me:

I was standing on the E train, staring at a fantastic painting on the train wall. It was of silhouette figures in NYC inside of buildings. You had to look closely to figure out where they were, but if you did look, it was fascinating, because you could see a gym, a school, a restaurant, a massage was a visual detective game. How fun! I was engrossed in the painting when I heard someone gasp behind me.

I turned around and this young girl had fainted!

Now, in other cities, I think the way most people would react to someone fainting ten feet away from them is to help them. Not in NYC. Everyone actually moved AWAY from the woman, except for one large older gal. She helped the girl up and asked her if she was okay. Clearly, the woman who fainted wasn't. She was a little thing, maybe 21, and her face was as white as the driven snow.

The woman gave her a piece of candy (I guess thinking she fainted because she was a diabetic). It was a lovely gesture, but please, you don't FAINT on a subway in NYC because you forgot to eat your Reese's before you left the house. The older woman then walked away from the girl and said she'd be fine.

Clearly, the young girl wasn't going to be fine. She was white as a ghost, her eyes kept lowering and she was nodding forward. We were coming to my stop in the city. Now, what went through my head was this: my boss is going to be annoyed if I'm not at my desk when he wants me to be at my desk. I should go to the office and let the girl do her own thing. But here is the rub: I knew that wasn't the right thing to do. I knew this was Life saying, Okay - what you gonna do, Son? You gonna step clear of her like everyone else is? Or you gonna step up?

I looked down at this little thing and knew what I had to do. I bent down and told her on the next stop I was going to get off with her and take her to the doctor. She mumbled something to me in Russian. I said I wasn't taking no for an answer. I looked behind me and asked if anyone would help me get her off the train and to a doctor.

Everyone said they had to go to work.

No one helped.

Matter of fact, they looked away. The women around me stared at me with wide, open and compassionate eyes but were unwilling to help.

I helped her off the train, rubbing her back the entire time. Poor thing. I got her to sit down and told her to sit still until I got back. She mumbled "Okay. Thank you..." and off I toddled and met an MTA employee, Dan Waldroff.

Dan came over and got her medical attention. I gave her my number and left. Before we parted I asked her name. "Tatiana" she replied, a smile on her face. Tears welled in her eyes. "Thank you very much. I must get my family members now," she said. I patted her on the back and left.

I'm no nun.

I don't write this to illustrated how loving and caring I am.

I write this to illustrated how people who live in New York City are conditioned to be tough, abrasive and self-absorbed.

If you were to stop any of the people in any of these situations and explain to them how they were being unaware, you would get one of two reactions:

A) Confusion - they would have no idea there were other people there besides themselves, or...

B) Defensiveness - they would say they were being nice enough but they have a job to keep and things to do and have to leave. NOW.

This is the great flaw of daily life in New York. It is a tough town and people lose their center and become tough to survive. It's very ego-driven at the cost of basic kindness.

To do the right thing means to be in touch with your mores, aka, what sociologists would define as the conventions that embody the fundamental values of a group.

Everyone on that train knew the socially correct thing to do was to help the girl. The values we embody support kindness and helping others. But for some reason we don't always act on those.

I feel we all have an obligation to ourselves but to others as well. That is the reason I write this blog. The cooking show idea is now non-existent, so this forum is simply my way of supporting and advocating the display of social mores, albeit with cooking or with art.

It's like RuPaul always -- "I like to be sassy, not bitchy." Couldn't agree more.

Sassy is fun. Bitchy is tired and annoying!

Can I get an amen?


Which is why yesterday I had to make a warm, comforting meal at home. It was so good, I had to blog about it.

Try this and you will be amazed. It's a long one - about 3 hours from start to finish - but the prep and cooking time are only about 45 minutes.

May I present...

Mikey's Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Pork Chile Verde!

Sometimes I make a meal that is so good Andy and I just stare at each other in amazement. This was one of those meals.

Come with me darlings as we COOK UP A STORM!

Prep time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Cooking time: 2 - 3 hours (very little supervision required; it cooks in the oven in a covered pot)

Serving size: 6

  • 3 pounds pork shoulder*, cut into golf ball size chunks
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup unbleached flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 large white onions, diced fine
  • 2 red peppers, diced fine
  • 2 fresh poblano peppers, diced fine
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, diced fine
  • 3 serrano peppers, diced fine
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1 pound roasted tomatillos, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup packaged Verde salsa
  • 2 cups no-salt chicken broth
  • 2 pounds Russian golden fingerling potatoes
  • Toasted flour tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Freshly chopped tomatoes
For the pork - it's very important what kind of cut you get. I go to an amazing butcher in Manhattan -- "L. Simchick" -- they are at 988 First Avenue in NYC (tel: 212-888-2299). Always try to get either the 'shoulder' cut of pork or a 'Boston Butt' cut.

They are both a bit more fatty and break down beautifully in a long roast. They taste like butter when they are cooked for long periods of time. The loin, a much more popular cut, is easier to find but very dry. It's worth the hunt to do this right and get the shoulder cut, or Boston Butt. Trust me.


  • Preheat your oven to a nice, even 300 degrees. Make sure the oven rack is in the center of the oven. You want slow, even cooking. You are kinda making your own Crockpot in the oven.
  • Put your tomatillos in the oven to roast while you prep everything. Line a jelly roll baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove the paper outside from your tomatillos (which are simply green tomatoes - the ones I buy are already shucked from their paper skins) and cut them lengthwise. Spray the aluminum foil with Pam Organic Olive Oil and then lay the tomatillos, cut side down, on the foil. Give a healthy spray over the tops and salt and pepper. Place in the oven and let roast as you prep the stew. Keep an eye on them. You want them to have a nice brown exterior. A lot of their moisture will leak out as they roast.
  • Have your bottle of liquid olive oil nearby. You may need it for the pork.
  • Cut up your pork, trimming off any excess fatback and saving a 2-inch piece to the side. Make sure your pieces are healthy looking 'golf-ball' size. Put aside in a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, pour in your flow with 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix it up.
  • Cut up your onions and all three varieties of peppers. Put aside in a large, separate bowl. I do not seed my peppers and I don't think you need to for this recipe. I find it to be a pleasant shade of 'hot'.
  • Measure out your cumin, oregano and coriander in a small bowl and set aside. Slice up your garlic and put it in the same little bowl with the spices.
  • If you have enough measuring cups, I recommend measuring out your canned Salsa Verde and your Chicken Broth. It's easier to enjoy cooking if you have them nearby.
  • There is no need to prep the potatoes in advance. You simply can wash them and have them nearby. Most Fingerling Potatoes cook very rapidly and don't need to be diced. I dice the large ones for easier and more enjoyable eating...entirely up to you.
  • Now - salt and pepper the pork pieces you cut and then roll in the flour. Shake off any excess but make sure all sides of the pieces are coated.
You work that Pork Verde!

  • Heat up a large Dutch oven. Make sure you have a tight fitting lid you can use later in the process.
  • Put in 1/2 of the 2 inch piece of fat back from the pork and render it (meaning, melt it until it's liquid). Add enough pork pieces to fill the bottom of the pan but DO NOT CROWD THEM. If you do, they will NOT brown. Better to go slow on the process. This is key to tasty pork.
  • Brown the pork on all sides, small batches at a time. Use a bit of your olive oil if it's too dry or if it's too smoky. There is no science to this part. You just gotta get a hankering for it.
  • Transfer the batches of browned pork to a large bowl.
  • Once the pork is done, if there is no fat in the Dutch oven, pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, heat it up for 2 minutes, then add your onions and peppers, with a dash of salt and cook for 5-6 minutes.
  • By now you should take your tomatillos out of the oven and let them cook a bit on the stove. When they are cool, you want to cut them up a bit, if they are not too hot too the touch. They will be very moist and mushy. Try to save the juice that comes out of them. I like to take them off of the aluminum foil and cut them on a cutting board with a little side 'alley' that catches the juice, or else you have warm tomato juice all OVER the place.
  • After the onions and peppers are nice and tender, add in your garlic and spices and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the roasted and diced tomatillos. Mix all of that up now. You want the veggies coated with those yummy spices.
  • Throw in the browned pork, your bay leaves, the salsa and the chicken broth and gently stir until it's all nice and covered. You want to make sure the meat/veggie mixture is covered by at least 1 inch of the chicken broth/packaged salsa Verde liquid.
  • Put on the lid and pop in the oven for AT LEAST 60 minutes. 90 minutes is best. Mix every 30 minutes or so.
Andy always forgets and burns himself, silly man!

  • After 60-90 minutes, throw in your potatoes, mix it up and then put it back in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • You are now at the 2 hour mark. Take it out of the oven (USE OVEN MITTS) and put it on the stove top over medium heat and let it cook for 30 minutes with the top off. You want it at a healthy simmer.
  • When the mixture has reduced down and is thick, give it a taste for salt and pepper.
Serve with either toasted pita chips or tortilla's. Add some sour cream and/or fresh red tomatoes on the side and you are set.

Enjoy this amazing meal my little darlings!!!!


Mikey Bryan
Your Sex, Food, Love Therapist...