Archive for July, 2008

New citizens pulling levers

Monday, July 14th, 2008

“New immigrants accounted for at least one-third of the increase in the number of New York City voters since 2004,” writes Fernanda Santos in Sunday’s New York Times. This is, of course, an extremely diverse population, and there are no predictions about how it will affect the outcome of the many city elections coming up in 2009. At the moment, it’s mainly an issue for campaign outreach, but it will be an interesting story to follow once we get past the Big One this November.

In the meantime, it’s Bastille Day. Vive la France !

Flag courtesy of Applied Language Solutions.

What Irish dancing hath wrought

Friday, July 11th, 2008

The Museum of the City of New York is presenting a number of programs in conjunction with its current exhibit Catholics in New York, 1808-1946. On Saturday, July 19, at 2 pm, Foot & Fiddle Dance Company will perform at the museum. The program will demonstrate “how waves of Irish immigration have influenced American dance,” says the museum schedule. “Enjoy a dazzling blend of dance and musical styles, from clogging, square dancing, tap, and bluegrass, to swing, Cajun, and rock & roll.”

Presented in association with Community Works, whose mission is “to forge links between diverse cultures and communities, to improve educational attainment, and to extend the benefits of the arts to all people.” Sounds good. Free with museum admission; 1220 Fifth Ave. More info at (212) 534-1672, ext. 3395.

¡Que rico!

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

It was 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon, and all we wanted to do was have a good, affordable lunch. We walked into Epocas in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, a medium-sized room with a long bar decorated with football (soccer) balls & jerseys & scarves. And a little pot of bamboo and a bartop burbling stone fountain.

Their menu includes Italian and Mexican dishes, but their heart is Ecuadorian. We started with an empanada de queso ($2), which came sprinkled with powdered sugar. It was hot and fresh and filled with a mild, agreeable cheese. The arroz con camarones ($9.99; leftovers pictured above) was really good, suffused with a savory, oniony quality and topped with fried plantains. It was such a big plate I could eat only half, but it made for a delicious lunch on Monday. The encebollado mixto ($11.99; fish & shrimp with onion and cassava) was a hearty soup, with a tangy lemon accent and a rich, buttery quality as well.

The sangria, which we ordered by the glass ($4) and which came without fruit or ice, was excellent, ruby red, cold and fruity rather than overly sweet. Next time we’ll order a mini pitcher and linger a little longer, listening to Spanish pop. That is, if there’s no game on TV.

You can get a cheaper plate of rice in Sunset Park, but this was a good deal, and the waitress was friendly, even when she had to tell us that we couldn’t have arepas or cazuela. How do they compare with the Ecuadorian places on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens? I don’t know. All I know is it made me happy. And I wish I had a glass of that sangria right now.

Epocas restaurant (not to be confused with Epoca in Fort Greene) is at 6124 Fifth Ave, near 62nd St, (718) 748-3650. It’s just the edge of Sunset Park before you go under the BQE and emerge in upper Bay Ridge.

Immigrants & their homes, in the Times

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

Today’s New York Times roundup: In Forest Hills, Queens, the growing community of Bukharian Jews from Central Asia is making itself known through its taste in big, bold homes with paved front lawns. One immigrant is quoted as saying, “Why are we in America? Because we’re dreaming of this freedom! We were dreaming to build big house.”

Their neighbors aren’t thrilled; they say the new houses—which replace older ones—diminish neighborhood’s character, and they regard the newcomers as insular. Kirk Semple’s story is here. (I’m a little distracted by the doors on the car in the photo!)

Meanwhile, over in the Real Estate section, Stephen P. Williams writes about Mohammed Ali from Ghana and his growing family in the Prospect Heights two-bedroom he bought for $78,000 thirteen years ago. It’s a nice story, because they seem to be living a stable, modest middle-class life, an increasing rarity in this city (certainly a rarity in the Real Estate section). They even have a place to sit outside.

Los Colombianos

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Seth Kugel’s Weekend in New York column in the Sunday Times Travel section is always worth reading. On June 15 he covered Colombian culture in Queens and beyond.

As he reminds us, on July 20 the Festival of Colombian Independence brings excitement to Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. On July 27, the Colombian Day Parade goes down (up?) Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights. (Please note: he’s confirmed that it is July, not June.)