Food is poison. Food is medicine. Chefs are competitive. Chefs are gods. Chefs are dictators. Welcome to the first half of the 21st century. 14th Street and adjacent neighborhoods explode with food stores. From the east side going west, there are Associated, the Food Emporium, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Garden of Eden, Westside Market, and Chelsea Market. Each place has an individual character and atmosphere. On First Avenue is Associated. It’s the artisan/non-gluten/gluten breadbasket of Stuyvesant Town. On the south side of Fourteenth Street is Trader Joe’s with its fake people friendly atmosphere and very tired vegetables and fruits. Part of its popularity is that it presents itself as less expensive than the other food stores. Its wine shop does have great buys. Two buck Chuck, the house wine, costs very little. Supposedly, that’s thanks to a nasty divorce. Crossing the street and moving west we come to The Food Emporium on the north corner and east side of Union Square. It’s big, impersonal and expensive. On Saturdays, skirting Union Square Park, there’s the shrine to fresh, green and local, the Farmers Market. Let’s duck across the street to the south side. Smack on Union Square is Whole Foods where I’ve spent the bulk of my 401K. Like a gambling casino, there are no clocks. Garden of Eden and Westside Market are on Fourteenth Street’s north side. Turning right on Ninth Street we come to Chelsea Market, an indoor marketplace that features architecture, art and fashion bowing down to food.
Steve Kulchek, who lives in Stuyvesant Town,
ducks into Associated after a late shift and grabs mac and cheese from the prepared food section. It brings back birthday memories. His Aunt Bess would prepare his favorite food: mac and cheese sprinkled with crispy bacon. Since Steve is also nuts about olives, each year since he was seven, his Uncle Con presents him with a jar.