There are three things that will most likely happen when you move to NYC. 1. You completely revamp your wardrobe, and you gain a new found appreciation for shoes. 2. You start to judge other people by the kind of coffee they drink. 3. You realize that you're lonely and food has been the long lost love of your life. You may have always enjoyed food, but NYC is the mecca of eating, and it will inspire you to reach new heights when it comes to publicly broadcasting your infatuation with all things edible. I'm talking several social media outlets devoted to meal documentation, admiration, and exploration. (No?... Just me? #nycfat) Food porn at its finest.
For the first six to eight months you'll spend at least half a month's pay discovering what the city has to offer, dining out, and racking up discounts on Seamless. You'll probably get on a first name basis with delivery men from local Thai and sushi restaurants, as well as a place that specializes in both Mexican and Italian... for convenience. Kind of like a classier Taco Bell "Express" attached to a Pizza Hut. I appreciate and endorse the simultaneous craving for pizza and burritos, but I know you're better than that.
After the first six to eight months, you'll get to a point where your clothes and bank account get even tighter, and you'll have to start being a real human being because society tells you that you have to. Like wearing pants in public. Or establishing a 401k. When this happens, you'll ask your parents to buy you a few fancy cookbooks that Twitter or Pinterest told you were great because the recipes are "quick and easy," and visions of homemade meals will soon dance in your head. You'll get all jazzed up about making some type of baked salmon with sautéed spinach over quinoa, and you decide to turn your shoebox of an apartment into an exact replica of Kitchen Stadium from Iron Chef. You're the next Bobby Flay. It's time to throw down.
You stock your fridge with all the ingredients, pour yourself a glass of wine, and toss open the cookbook only to realize that you have none of the required utensils, and absolutely no space to work in your hobbit hole of a kitchen. You shut the book. Open your phone. Order some froyo and toss your feet up on your Ikea coffee table. Only to later use the cookbook as a coaster that collects dust and eventually gets donated/tossed come the first nice day in April when Facebook tells you it's time to do some "Spring cleaning!" My advice to you: Don't give up. Cooking great food in a NYC apartment is possible as long as you keep it simple and take some precautionary measures before turning on the heat. Here are six pieces of advice that will help in your mission to feel like a capable human being.
1. Use Your Oven. Yes, that thing you've been storing pots and pans and/or shoes in since you moved in. Chances are your stove is directly next to a wall, which is not ideal for foods that spit out hot oil and grease as they cook (read: bacon). If you can sauté it, you can roast it, and you won't make such a mess. Put your oven on 400 degrees. Put bacon on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet and roast for 14 minutes. Flip the bacon halfway through. Perfectly cooked bacon every time. I guarantee it.
2. Wear Shoes. I know this is basic common sense, but you'll regret not taking my advice when you end up at Mt. Sinai with a knife in the top of your foot, or worse, third degree burns from when you dropped a pot of boiling water.
3. Disable Your Smoke Alarm. Sure, this isn't the safest or smartest move, but it's definitely the most beneficial. Let's be honest, it there's a fire in your kitchen you're probably going to know about it, and you'll avoid pissing off your neighbor and their cat when you're searing up some steaks.
4. Maximize Your Space. You're probably working with a total of about 18 square inches of counter space, so you need to get creative. If you have a large cutting board, lay it across your sink and use that as more work space. Although it's great to clean as you go, avoiding chopping vegetables on your coffee table is key.
5. Get a Real Knife. Seriously. The serrated edge 8-inch knife that your dad gave you because he was getting rid of it is not going to cut it. Pun intended. A solid 7-inch Santoku or chefs-style knife is all an amateur needs for everything you're going to accomplish in a NYC apartment.
6. Calm the F*ck down: Drop an egg on the floor? No sweat, it cost you 26 cents. Need to use a toaster oven in the "living room" because you only have 1 outlet in the kitchen? Sure, you go Glen Coco. Bottom line: Get creative with how you use your entire apartment, and remain calm. You're cooking food, not crystal meth.
Visit NYC Food and Travel for more cooking advice and recipes.
Follow Frank Michael on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nycfat