the stomach wins

04/28/11 09:41

Wandering around Manhattan last week I was struck by the large number of businesses devoted to food. There were blocks with only these, restaurants next to pizzerias next to fast-food franchises. There were the familiar - Chipotle seemed almost as prevalent as Starbucks - and some that were new to me, like Maoz (wonderful falafel with a fresh salad bar). One day in midtown I walked past the soup place made famous by Seinfeld (and now selling T-shirts printed with the words "No Soup For You"). Then of course there were all the street carts grilling kabobs and sausages.

It was hard to walk a block without seeing or smelling something to eat. It didn't seem so much a health problem - people generally looked pretty fit - as a psychological one. New Yorkers, like other Americans, have become obsessed with food.

I stayed in a friend's apartment on the Upper West Side, and was disappointed to see that the Barnes & Noble at 66th and Broadway had closed since my last visit. Walking around the neighborhood I found a choice of edibles from around the world - many of them temptingly displayed and ready to eat - but no store where I could buy a book. On the Upper West Side, one of America's intellectual enclaves. There seemed no clearer sign that in the national battle between the mind and the stomach, the stomach has won.

By Thomas Swick • Category: books, food

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