I love Pittsburgh. It’s beautiful and gritty. It’s an affordable city with good food, sports teams and culture. It’s a city where young people can live an exciting, quality lifestyle. And it's my second home. Of all the places I have lived outside of New York, this place is distinctly my own.
This is a foodie town. Ask what a typical Pittsburgh dish is and you will get responses from the perogie to fries on a salad to Northern Italian food. And of course there are any number of other non-traditional Pittsburgh ethnic restaurants, like Thai, Indian and Ethiopian.
With such a great selection of good food, my internal foodie is hardly ever at a loss for good food to enjoy. Except when it comes to traditional Puerto Rican food and bagels. Those two foods may seem random, but when you are a born and bread New Yorker those foods are staples of your life.
A Latino community just never took hold in Pittsburgh. It was like some Puerto Ricans stopped off here for a moment and then said "nah let's go on to Cleveland and Chicago". Latino food in Pittsburgh means Mexican. Not that I don't love me some good Mexican, but Latino cuisine is so diverse. Latin America comprises of two continents, North and South America, which spans a diverse geological and climate range, which means a large diversity of ingredients and preparation styles. Puerto Rican cuisine takes from the Spanish, African and Taino (indigenous people from Puerto Rico) food traditions. What makes it unique is how the flavors in each meal play off of sweet and savory ingredients, like a sweet fried plantains and the saltiness of lechon (roast pork).
While I ate Puerto Rican food for dinner growing up, there was never any breakfast like a warm Brooklyn bagel from the neighborhood bagel shop.
Finding a boiled bagel in Pittsburgh proves elusive. Don't get me wrong, you can find a bagel in Pittsburgh. But the bagels I speak of are the Brooklyn boiled variety. Where the bagel itself is the size of your hand and the hole looks like a belly button. Served with a schmear (of cream cheese) and lox. Or just butter. Chewy, soft, warm. Amazing.
The places these foods are served in are communal. From the neighborhood Puerto Rican spot where you can feel the Caribbean, enjoying a Presidente beer and listen to some bachata - dancing optional, to the Brooklyn bagel shops filled with the hustle an bustle of city dwelling folks getting their breakfast and the paper.
I want to create these kinds of places, spaces and sentimiento in Pittsburgh. A little piece of Puerto Rico and Brooklyn in the 'burgh.
Please enjoy my website, more blog posts to come exploring the topics of food, culture, community and how these things all come together to add to our city and our world strength and vibrancy!