Program in Dietetics, Foods and Nutrition
DFN 220 Cultural Food Market Field Trip and Assignment
Objective: To survey cultural foods in a local small-scale market and to compare those findings with the ethnic food forms in a supermarket and to write a report on the findings with and this experience.
Suggested Areas – Where to Go:
Choose on shopping area that is generally recognized as ethnically rich for example:
• Bronx: Arthur Avenue, around 187th street (Italian)
• Manhattan East Harlem around Lexington Ave and 100-116th Street (Hispanic)
• Manhattan Chinatown: around the intersection of Mott Street and Canal Street (Chinese)
• Brooklyn Atlantic Avenue between Court and Clinton Street (Middle Eastern)
• Brooklyn Brighten Beach Avenue between Ocean Pkwy and Ocean Avenue (Russian)
• Queens: Main Street in Flushing (Chinese)
• Queens Jackson Heights: Indian – not sure of the intersection
• Yonkers: Mclean Ave – 5 blocks off the throughway (Irish)
You should explore areas that are different from your own culture
If you have other ideas then the ones listed above – please let me know so I can add them to the list for future classes.
Go to the neighborhood you choose and visit (many not one) the following types of shops:
• Greengrocer (produce market)
• Bakery (bread rolls – cakes, cookies)
• Delicatessen or store that has at least two of the following
• Fish shop, meat shop. Pasta shop, cheese shop pastry shop
• OR ANY OTHER stores they may have!
Explore the food shops and restaurants.
• What kinds of food stores are there?
• What types of foods are sold?
• What types of foods are served in the restaurants?
• What kinds of foods are completely new to you?
• Taste something new to you, preferably at each store; describe the appearance, texture and flavor etc.
• Talk to the merchants and ask them about their traditional stores and foods.
• What are your feelings about the foods and about shopping in this environment?
• Did you see foods that were discussed in class?
• Are the prices worth the trip? Were they more or less expensive then you thought or compared to other
Now go to a large supermarket in your neighborhood and find examples of foods that parallel the ethnic cuisine that you’ve chosen to investigate. What are the differences in the experience of buying culturally rich foods in
a supermarket? What are the price differences in foods purchased at the ethnic stores and the supermarket? Which experience and source do you feel is more valuable and why?
Get one traditional recipe from this culture and conduct a nutritional analysis on it. Discuss if it is a healthy choice or not
What could you do to change it.
This report should be typed double spaced at least 3-4 pages long and include 4 price comparison of the same foods sold at an ethnic market and a supermarket. It should include the names and addresses of the stores that you visited. Cite all your sources using MLA.
You can choose to go to another area – but please confirm with me before you go.
Cultural Food Market Tour
Elmhurst, Queens is home to one of the country’s most ethnically diverse neighborhoods
and can drastically change in ethnic background by the time you turn a corner. Starting from Jackson Heights and blending into Elmhurst one can find Latino, South Asian, Chinese and Korean food. However, other than Flushing, Queens, the largest Chinatown in NYC, one can expect to find a heavy presence of Chinese culture in Elmhurst. The heavy presence of Chinese culture in Elmhurst is why it’s often called the city’s fourth Chinatown and also why many Chinese elders settle down there. A walk down Broadway is an interesting area to explore Chinese culture without being overwhelmed by the bustling crowd typically found in Flushing, especially during COVID-19.
Broadway Chinese Seafood on 8317 Broadway is a traditionally Cantonese Dim Sum restaurant that serves a large range of small dishes to enjoy instead of a single large meal. This restaurant was my favorite place to visit because of the dim sum allowing me to try a little bit of almost everything. The items I ordered were the shrimp siu mai, which is an open dumpling filled with shrimp, fish balls, pork bun, shrimp noodle rolls, congee, and the egg tarts. The fish balls were one of my favorites as I’ve never tried them and reminded me of a meatball. For those who are pescetarian and are tired of eating different varieties of tofu, fish balls are much more flavorful, chewy and juicy. The fish ball wasn’t overpowering with the taste of fish, but had a mild fish flavor with lots of seasoning. Congee is also a popular rice pudding like soup with a
thick consistency and mildly salted bland flavor. The servers mentioned that congee is a staple in Chinese cuisine as it serves as a healing medicine to eat when sick or to prevent getting ill. Each dish costs around $4.50, making it on the pricier side compared to nearby dim sum restaurants. At Shun Wang, a nearby dim sum restaurant on 8125 Broadway, each dish for goes for around $2.50 to $4.50 depending on what you are getting. One of the most popular dishes found in authentic Chinese restaurants is pecking duck, which is fatty and juicy meat with a thin crispy skin that is typically served with rice or wrapped in a pancake with a sauce. At Broadway Chinese Seafood a whole pecking duck costs $22.95 while at Shun Wang a whole duck costs $21.00. Five Loaves and Two Fishes Chinese Food on 82-72 Broadway is also a dim sum restaurant selling whole roasted dick for $24, making it the most expensive.
Many of the other restaurants such as Shun Wang and Lao Bei Fang Dumpling House on 8305 Broadway also served the same dishes, as they are staples in Chinese cuisine. Noodles, rice, and varieties of dumplings are popularly served. At Lao Bei Dumpling house I decided to try the Fish Ball Ho Fun (rice noodle) soup with mixed vegetables. The fish balls in this soup were as delicious as the Broadway Chinese Seafood dim sum. The ho fun is eaten with a chili oil and soy sauce to taste. I’m familiar with ramen, as I’ve eaten at many Japanese ramen restaurants; however, the Chinese rice noodle soup has a rich beef flavor that is different from the miso base flavor from ramen. The chili oil was a great compliment to the soup, as Chinese soup tends to contain less sodium than other cultures cooking. When visiting these restaurants, one must keep in mind that they would not be as aesthetically pleasing as the Chinese restaurants found in popular areas. While eating and visiting in the mentioned restaurants, there weren’t any other ethnic backgrounds found except for local Asians living in the neighborhood.
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There are plenty of bakery’s to explore Chinese desserts and beverages from in the area as well. Fay Da, on 8612 Justice Ave between Broadway is one of the popular chain bakery’s around that is also found in Flushing Main St. They sell sesame balls filled with red bean paste, egg custard tart, pineapple bun, coconut bun, roast pork bun, hot dog bun, steamed pain bun, steamed egg custard bun. I tried the pineapple bun, which was $1.80, the egg custard tart for $1.80 and steamed plain bun for $1.80. The egg custard was like a pudding center with crunchy outer dough, however, it was small compared to the pineapple bun and not worth the price. The pineapple bun and the steamed plain bun were my favorite, the pineapple bun was lightly sweet with a flaky crunchy sweet topping and the plain bun was a very subtle sweet flavor with a warm and soft texture. Rainbow Dim Sum, on 8253 Broadway is a Hong Kong style café serving quick dim sum for those craving a light meal. A typical Chinese beverage is black tea with milk and sugar, costing $1.20 for a small drink. The prices are cheaper than Fay Da with the plain steamed bun, pineapple bun, and hot egg custard costing all $1.50 each. Double Rainbow Bakery, on 8251 Broadway, is Rainbow Dim Sum’s competitor. Double Rainbow Bakery specializes in cakes and is much more expensive than Rainbow Dim Sum. A lava cheese tart, similar to an egg custard tart, costs $2.75 along with individual slices of cake and breads.
Broadway is a popular street to find many Chinese restaurants and bakeries but the most interesting are the three big Chinese supermarkets only 0.3 miles away from each other. SkyFoods on 7955 Albion Ave, New Golden Sparkling Supermarket on 8618 Broadway, and US Supermarket on 8266 Broadway are Chinese supermarkets selling a variety of Asian goods and produce you won’t find in a regular Food Bazaar or City Fresh. I was able to find a variety of fish balls at all three supermarkets ranging from $1.99 to $3.99. A specific type of fish like squid, cuttlefish, Fuzhou and Pollock, separated the fish balls. Wild duck can also be bought at
any of these restaurants for about $15. I was excited to find a variety of plain, custard filled, or red bean filled steamed buns for $2.69 for a pack of 6. They tasted nearly as good as the ones served in the bakery but if not steamed enough or not eaten right after cooking, the buns can be dry and hard. I also found a range of fruits and vegetables that I don’t see at my local supermarket such as Chinese luffa, Chinese broccoli that looked more like a spinach, 3 types of bok choy, dragon fruit, lychee, longan which looked like the Spanish limoncillo, and durian. At US Supermarket there is a big fish market selling lobster, crab, conch, different fish, mussel, eel, and clams. A majority of the animals are live and in big fish tanks to ensure the freshness and quality of the meat purchased.
Chinese cuisine is one of the most diverse as they serve an array of different dishes based with noodles, meats, and vegetables. People might be used to ordering a chicken and broccoli or general tso’s chicken from an Americanized Chinese food restaurant, however, ordering from an authentic Chinese restaurant can be overwhelming when there are so many options. The base of Chinese dishes tends to be a carbohydrate with vegetables and fatty meat on the side. A traditional dish in China is congee or jook, which as the waitress at Broadway Chinese Seafood mentioned, is a heart meal to boost ones immune system. Congee is traditionally eaten at any time of day for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The base for all Chinese dishes is ginger, scallions and garlic sautéed in some sesame or canola oil. A chicken broth is made before adding rice wine, salt and cooking jasmine rice with an extra amount of the chicken broth to make a soupier porridge type consistency. Once ready, it is served with cuts of chicken and fresh scallion. This meal is low in calories and often used as a meal replacement for weight loss. This dish is a light meal high in carbohydrate with the many nutrients that comes with the fresh chicken stock, totaling at about 200 calories per serving. Chicken stock is high in vitamins and minerals such as
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riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-B6, potassium and selenium. Ginger is a good spice as it’s loaded with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties, which is why many people drink ginger tea when feeling ill. Congee may be a good medicinal remedy for a common cold or as a therapeutic diet. Patients who are edentulous or require a mechanical soft diet can benefit from the nutrients present in the chicken stock and may be a more filling meal than a regular soup since congee is a thicker rice based soup that does not require chewing if the chicken is removed. Congee is a healthy choice to eat but not as primary meal as it doesn’t have as many vegetables or protein as MyPlate recommends. Overall, the benefits of congee are versatile and can be used as part of a therapeutic diet, a remedy for a weakened immune system or a light meal. For those who are able to enjoy congee for the overall benefits and taste, I would recommend adding a protein source such as chicken or an egg on the side and more added vegetables to increase the dietary fiber content of the meal. Overall, traditional and authentic Chinese cuisine is extremely nourishing, thought to fight illnesses and prolong life.
Epicurious. “Chinese Chicken and Rice Porridge (Congee).” Epicurious, Gourmet,
https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/chinese-chicken-and-rice-porridge-congee- 103051 August 2004.
“Ginger: Health Benefits and Dietary Tips.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon Interntional, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265990#benefits. January 2020.
Lee, Patty. “The New Chinatown: Elmhurst.” Time Out New York. https://www.timeout.com/newyork/restaurants/the-new-chinatown-elmhurst. July 2013.
“Soup, Stock, Chicken, Home-Prepared Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Nutrition Data Know What You Eat.,nutritiondata.self.com/facts/soups-sauces-and-gravies/7214/2.
Program in Dietetics, Foods and Nutrition