If you want to know New York, get to know its street cuisine. I learned it early. Growing up in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, I would get a lunch of two hot dogs in steam-soft rolls from the guy who set up his stainless-steel pushcart on the corner of 17th Street every morning, rain or shine, Saturdays and holidays, summer-fall-winter-spring.
It's the July 4th weekend. My wife, Kathy, and I have a bag full of red, white and blue pinwheels, some Stars and Stripes-brand snack cakes and a packet of mini-flags. We're nearly set for a holiday blowout in the country. Strangely, none of the stores is stocked with hot dogs or chips. No one around us seems to be doing the same.