Whether its cronuts or ramen burgers I’m not a fan of the mixed up, mashed up hybridization that’s become such a part of New York City’s culinary zeitgeist. Which is why I’m glad the food writer’s collective Real Cheap Eats, of which I am a proud member has decided to take back the mashup with its latest release, Real Cheap Mashups, a guide to 40 border-bending dishes for $10 or less. The list includes everything from sandwiches and soups to snacks, like my favorite Nepalese cheap eat, sandheko Wai Wai, a fiery uncooked ramen noodle-based chaat that’s a blend of five cultures. Take that ramen burger!
One of my favorite things about the new releases of Real Cheap Eats is discovering new tastes in my own borough. I am especially excited to try the acarajé, a Brazilian street food with strong West African roots that Dave Cook unearthed in Astoria. It consists of a black-eyed-pea fritter sliced open and loaded with bacalao (salt cod) salad, caruru de quiabo (okra gumbo) and vatapá (a creamy paste made from mashed nuts and seafood), then topped with shrimp. And Real Cheap Eats mastermind, James Boo, has inspired me to look beyond the wonderful coconut egg tart at New Flushing Bakery to its quivering almond-scented Portuguese egg tart, which comes to my humble borough via Portugal, Macau, and Hong Kong.
So skip the line for the latest food fad—cup steaks, it’s a steak, it’s a dessert—and dig into some real New York City mashups.