I usually tell people that the last place I want to be… is a poor American neighborhood. There is nothing worse than a poor black, or white American neighborhood; there is no industry and it’s fucking depressing.
Bushwick, on the other hand, is overflowing with latino immigrants, who will do anything for work. This is where I live, and I have to admit… I have become spoiled. On Knickerbocker from Myrtle all the way down to the Maria Hernandez park, there are street venders at least every fifteen feet, pushing any number of products, but ninety percent if it is food.
You got tamale ladies who come out round 6:30 in the am, selling tamales freshly made in their own home (I assume). They usually sell three or four different flavors, Verde, Roja, Mole and Dulce, and for a drink the sell horchata, which come the winter, is extremely popular. The customers run the gamut from families on their way to work or church, or you have vaqueros still drunk from the night before. Verde (green sauce), Roja (red sauce) and Mole (a sweet dark sauce) are all severed with chicken. For me it’s a toss up between Verde or Roja, I usually get one of each ($1.25 each) and eat which ever one has the right consistency of spice and texture. Its not consistent, which I am ok with. I never liked Mole, and Dulce… I find to be a bit confusing… it’s a sweet flavor mixed with cheese, not really my thing.
Depending on how you like em is when you buy em, I prefer mine as soft as possible, so the earlier the better, the longer the morning churns on, the harder and dryer they get.
Come one in the afternoon the tamale venders have all packed up and everyone else who sets up, is there till sundown. The are a couple of empanada carts cranking out fresh beef or chicken empanada’s. There are ladies who sell mango’s, along with fried macaroni and even elotes. Elotes are steamed corn which always sounds nice, until I see how they serve the corn. First they smother them in mayonnaise, then mexican cheese, and finally dusted with paprika. Let me be the first to say, that it’s disgusting. As for fried macaroni (pasta frito), I, after 5 years in this neighborhood, have still yet to go there, but the mango’s are always fine. That’s what I crave in the heat, chilled mangos and Perrier. The mango lady around the corner knows I like mine on ice and will leave a pack or two there for me.
Further down Knickerbocker you have fruit trucks which sell some nice fruit, that I have found have the shortest shelf-life… eat asap. This isn’t fruit from the white folks neighborhood, it’s po-folks fruit. There are carts making frituras (on the streets no doubt), fresh jugos (juices) like lime, or mellon (watermelon), and pinchos.
I love pinchos, this is my shit right here, and apparently…I’m not the only one. Pinchos are basically a kabob of either chicken or pork. I naturally want to eat pork, but due to the fact that these are made on a shopping cart… I will play it safe with chicken. A choice my colon appreciates very much. This is usually served with BBQ sauce, but the lady I go to also has a red sauce she makes which is banging.
There are roughly four or five ice cream trucks (fuck that), a couple italian ice carts (Marino’s is legit, Tropical is shit), and then you have the shaved ice dude… with a big block of ice shaving by hand and mixed with fruit flavored syrup. The fact that it’s ice, I find refreshing, however syrup… is something I prefer to use sparingly. I ask for just a splash of whatever flavored syrup(solomente poco). Occasionally I just get the ice by itself… works for me.
And when you finally get to the park, there is this one lady who sells the weirdest trashiest thing. It’s french fries with a hot dog with she cuts up and serves in a bowl.
I got it once, don’t think I will ever get it again. I mean there is a Sabrett stand right on Knickerbocker, and he’s got sausages. I’m set, and yet somehow, I’m not fat.