Growing up in Florida, I was never a huge fan of summer. Being outside in South Florida when it is 95 degrees and humid sucks. It sucks hard. However, I have discovered that I positively love summers in New York. It can be just as hot and just as humid, but there's always some interesting (and usually cheap) way to enjoy the heat.
I also love summers in New York because of all of the outdoor eating options. As I mentioned in my last post, I basically like eating with lots of other people, whether I know them or not. One of the absolute best places to get your food on is at the soccer fields in Red Hook. I'm trying to think of a good way to describe the Red Hook Ball-Field experience, and "colorful" is way too cliche. Maybe "comfortable."
The Porkchop Express has a great writeup on the history of the Field's food stands here, and a super-handy map. I wish I had discovered this before I went, but I kind of like figuring things out with my stomach.
The stands are located along a small corner of the soccer fields, but it would take days to sample all of the food available. There isn't really a language barrier as all of the venders are super-nice and accomodating when your spanish isn't up to snuff. Smiling and pointing will get you far.
First stop: Soler Dominican for a pork and cheese papusa.
This was my first experience with the papusa, and I didn't realize how similar it is to an arepa. Pork, cheese, and cornmeal are amazing in any country, and the cabbage coleslaw added a great crunch. This was a great start.
Next stop: Ceron Colmbian for an empanada. Unfortunately, I don't think I dig my dumplings deep-fried, which is surprising because I enjoy EVERYTHING deep-fried. I just can't handle greasy food on hot days. Q enjoyed it because it reminded him of a Jamaican patty.
Up next: Rojas Ecuadorian for some mixed ceviche.
Holy crap, this was a lot of food! For $7, we were handed a pint of delicious citrus broth full of shrimp, fish, octopus, and squid. Everything was sooo tender and refreshing. The octopus was a bit chewy, but not in a bad way. I'm used to ceviche being less brothy and more like salsa, so this was a bit different. It was more like a cold fish soup, but it was so delicious. I wish that they served it at every sporting event, but I somehow don't think Yankees fans would go for that.
More food: Carrello Guatamalan for a fried chicken taco.
I have memories of eating those microwave taquito thingees in the afternoons when I got home from high school. I also liked Hot Pockets at that time. I apparently was a fratboy stoner when I was 16. Anyhoo, I had no idea what how similar they were to poop-shaped cardboard before I had a real, homemade taquito. The chicken was so flavorful and the tomato sauce on top was so friggin' good. I hearby dub it the crackito. Yup.
This wouldn't be a post if I didn't include some pork porn. (I can't wait to see how many google hits I get for that). Final stop: Hernandez Huaraches for a spicy pork taco.
At that point, we couldn't fit a whole huarache in our rapidly expanding bellies, so we just grabbed a taco for dessert. The pork was a little dry, so it may be better to grab your meat-stuffed tortillas earlier in the day, but it was nice and crisp. It had just the right amount of cooling lettuce and cheese to counterbalance the salty, spicy pork.
The best part of this feast was that I think we spent around $15 for all of this food. Any time you can stuff Q and me for that cheap is quite an impressive feat.
In just a few hours, I had tasted amazing home-cooking from around Latin America. It was almost like a summer in Florida, going around the world at Epcot Center, but sooooo, soooo, (soooooo) much better. This is why I like summers in New York.
Unfortunately, the stands are in danger right now. I won't go into a huge amount of detail, but you can read about everything here at The Gowanus Lounge. If this post interested you at all in this amazing Brooklyn experience, visit http://savesoccertacos.blogspot.com/, write to Parks Commissioner Drian Benepe, and get your butt over to the Ball Fields to eat some tacos. If only eating tacos solved every problem. Wait, it kinda does.