The idea to create a new list every day for the month of November was experiment enough. Or so I thought. But then I told a friend about the project, and she started emailing me some ideas of her own. Some were awesome, but this one stuck out the most because she asked me to do something I didn't think was possible at all: she asked me to think about some "things I might actually miss about New York." At first I came up with nothing. My mother and my childhood dog both passed away years ago, and sure, I have friends that still live there, but we stay in touch, so it's not like I'm really being denied anything. But the more I thought about it, I realized there are quite a few things I haven't been able to get since I left New York, and after growing up with eighteen years of them, I can't shake them completely.
Italian ices. Even as simple as Marino's. I could swear for a few months when I was a freshman at USC I found a carton or two of the chocolate ones in the Ralph's in downtown L.A. But whether or not that was a memory or just a mirage, they no longer sell or ship them outside of the tri-state area. And pizza parlors out here don't have built-in ice cream freezers for fresh ices. My theory is that because no one walks in L.A. there is no high demand, so owners don't want to "waste" limited space on them. But it's still a shame. There's nothing better on a hot, hot day (and we get oh, so many of those in Los Angeles!) than a light and somewhat fluffy Italian ice.
Dunkin Donuts. Nothing says "my childhood" like a box of assorted Munchkins or a chocolate coconut crusted doughnut with a chocolate Coolatta on my way home from summer camp or a movie. Commercials claim they're moving west, but the question is: where west? Even if they come to California-- will it be Southern California? Will it be Los Angeles? Will it be on my street corner!?
Chicken Francese. I promise not everything on this list will be about food. But most of it probably will. This was my favorite dish to eat for dinner as a kid. I would have it, like, twice a week, no exaggeration. It would always come with potato croquettes, which are equally awesome, but for some reason Italian restaurants out here don't make this. The Cheesecake Factory (oddly) makes a version of it, but it's coated in breadcrumbs, so it's not perfect.
Block parties. This isn't something that happens in Manhattan, though they have taken to some street fairs and farmers' markets, since that is the trendy thing to do. But growing up in a borough, select streets would get special city permits and shut down for traffic so families could come out and barbecue on front stoops, inflate Moonbounces where parked cars usually sit, set up ring or bean bag toss games, and let kids chase each other with water guns or on skates freely. These days they probably hire food trucks to cater and live bands to play, instead of just bringing out a boombox for every third house in order to get the volume up right.
The tunnel. I don't know why, but I always loved riding the X27 into Manhattan and going through the tunnel. I liked the idea that there was water rushing around outside the walls. Yes, I still thought of this fact favorably, even after seeing that awful Sylvester Stallone tunnel movie, Daylight. To be fair, that was a totally different tunnel. Also, I always loved water and wouldn't have minded having to swim my way out. Though I have to admit that the water around that tunnel is more sewage than water, but let's not ruin the fantasy.
How thin I was when I lived there. You can say it's because I was younger and had a faster metabolism, but really I think all the walking I did, which seemed like just a normal part of life at the time, really did constitute exercise activity and kept me in shape.
Serendipity III. Yeah, okay, this is still food. And none of these food items should really be surprising anyway. So call me a cheat, I don't care. But this restaurant is so full of whimsy, charm, and pop culture history that when you step inside it's like leaving the dirty, grimy city and entering a childhood fantasy. I always wanted the giant glass butterflies that hang from the ceiling to hang from my bedroom ceiling. I loved the little white, wicker-looking, metal chairs that made every meal seem like a tea party. And I know their big thing is the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, but I was always partial to the fried chicken basket with a huge order of the Forbidden Broadway Sundae at the end of the meal. See? Sometimes I eat real food, too! And I am looking for a good investment these days, so maybe they'd be interested in franchising. I'd love to run a restaurant like this!