Welcome to Mouth of The Border, Month One!

by Emily on June 29, 2009 · 17 comments

in Miscellaneous

This is not a blog. This is an online food journal and love letter to the ethnic neighborhoods of New York City. The posts will generally be long-format explorations of a particular cuisine or cultural aspect of an ethnic neighborhood.

Together, we’ll spend about a month getting into a relationship with each ethnic neighborhood. Funny things happen though: If I fall in love with Chinatown, for example, or with the Russian community in Brighton Beach, we may dally a little longer than a month before we decide we want to see other people.

July 2009 starts us off with an exploration of West Indian food, so I wanted to welcome all of you early visitors and give you a little more information about what to expect.

One of many West Indian markets in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn

One of many West Indian markets in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn

The posts here will largely fall into four categories:

1) Resources

  • Where can I go to find out more about x cuisine?
  • What are some good starter cookbooks if I want to start cooking this cuisine at home?
  • What markets carry the things I’ll need to make these recipes?
  • What restaurants do people from x country trust as authentic representations of their food?
  • Is there a map of restaurants I can use to check out the neighborhood?

2) Restaurants (but not reviews)

Restaurant posts will include pictures and notes on what I ate at the restaurants that represent the food of a neighborhood’s people and culture. There won’t be restaurant reviews here. Enough people and publications cover that scene in New York. Though I did used to write restaurant reviews for a living, I don’t see myself as qualified to review the restaurants I visit for Mouth of The Border because I’ll be eating many of these cuisines for the first time and have no basis of comparison. That’s the point of going to all of them – to get educated about what makes up x cuisine, and to help you get educated in the process.

3) Recipes

  • We’ll cook with people who know the cuisine and neighborhoods inside and out. When I share Jamaican recipes with you, there will at a least a few posts sharing videos and notes on how a Jamaican cook shops, preps, cooks and eats.
  • I’ll also be cooking from cookbooks on my own, trying to replicate the things I eat in the neighborhoods or come across in my research. I’ll share substitutions for hard-to-find ingredients so you can cook along with me, regardless of where you live.

4) Research

  • The New York City Public Library actually has a massive culinary research collection. I have access to a huge amount of information about ethnic cooking by virtue of living in New York City, and hope to share that with you.
  • The city also has a handful of amazing cookbook stores and kitchen supply shops. If there is some obscure utensil or handy book that will make it easier for you to wade your way through x cuisine, I’ll try to source it and let you know where you can get your hands on it.

There will be posts that don’t fit any of the above – maybe a quick video interview with a character from the neighborhood or just a photo collage of what I ate over the past week.

To that end, you should know that there is no set posting schedule. Life gets crazy sometimes, and you may want to subscribe if you don’t want to keep hitting refresh waiting for the next tasty tidbit to pop up here. Click here to subscribe.

Please do leave comments or shoot me an email (see the contact page). Though it may take me a day or so to respond or to approve your post, please know every suggestion or note is appreciated.

Before I leave you, I wanted to say THANK YOU to each one of you reading this right now. I have a handful of subscribers already, which is really exciting because there’s nothing here yet! YOU are my most important reader because you found this project when it was a baby. This project will grow thanks to your interest in it, and I want it to make you happy. So, THANK YOU for stopping by and for giving me the gift of your time. I’ll respect the fact that you’ve paid me attention by sharing stories that hopefully stay with you long after you step away from this screen.

I’m taking a few days to edit some video and organize your first tour through the Mouth of the Border. So many goodies came out of this past month of wandering around Crown Heights, Brooklyn, that it’s hard to decide what to hit you with first.

So here’s a video sneak peek of one of the first Recipe posts. The video (click link below to view) shows you a couple different ways to slice a mango, and will be included in a tutorial on how to make Curry Chicken, Jamaican style.

Thank you for stopping by. I’ll be back in July to take you on a trip through the West Indies via Brooklyn.

  • Pingback: Get to know Brooklyn, one spicy meal at a time | Brokelyn()

  • cyuskoff

    This is great Emily. I am always looking for places to eat in NYC when I visit. Hope you make it to LA soon. Great chatting with you on Twitter today! : )

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks so much, Claudia! I'm so happy you dropped by, and that you enjoy the

  • Patricec

    You've explained the concept in person before, but i love the idea and the site. Not to mention that West Indian food is up first. Anything that I can do to recreate the smell of my grandmother's kitchen is good times.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks, Patrice!! Working on the next post – please let me know what you
      think of the places I checked, and add in any really good ones you think I

  • http://rogersmithlife.com/ Bsimi

    I am so excited to read and hopfully participate in
    some of your journys!
    I have no doubt that this will become one if my favorite blogs!
    You are awesomeness!
    Your friend

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thank you, Brian. Your support and excitement means a lot!

  • SassyK

    I feel like I have been waiting for this site forever. I am looking forward to the recipes that involve ingredient substitutions as I cannot always make it to the Farmers market or specialty food store for such things.


    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      And I thank you for your patience! Can you let me know when I write about things you may not have access to, what you use instead and how it turns out? I want to give people as many options as possible so everyone can cook along. xx

  • http://www.tedandamysupperclub.com/ Kara

    Looks great! Can't wait to follow your adventures!

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Kara – thank you so much for checking out the site. Maybe I can get you to
      come along for some eating excursions with me?! Hope to see you soon,

  • Susan

    Congratulations! I so look forward to Mouth of the Border!

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Susan, thank you for always being so supportive. It's so funny – when anyone Googles me, your article on me in the Hippo is one of the top posts that shows up. So great to have that connection and, of course, to have it be about food! When are you coming to visit? It would be so great if I could get you and Michelle here at the same time!

  • http://www.karensmonsters.com/ Karen

    Good luck with your new blog. Sounds amazing. I follow you on twitter so I'll watch for your updates there.

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Monstahs visit my site!! Awesome. Great to see over here – thank you so much for stopping by! We will have to meet up at the Flea or somewhere in the neighborhood soon.

  • http://www.laurareviews.net/ Laura Cococcia

    So excited to see what comes next – this is like a dream come true for foodies (and ones that live in NYC and want the inside scoop). Just added you to my blogroll as well…always fantastic to come across other blogs!

    • http://www.mouthoftheborder.com emilyspearl

      Thanks so much, Laura. First person to add me to their blogroll – very cool to be in good company over there!

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