Soybean Chen, the smiling man well known around downtown Flushing, he says, has the distinction of operating the city’s only combination florist and fresh tofu kiosk. We devour the small pots of tofu standing on the curb.
Thereafter, we hit the central and south Americas. Ecuadorian stalls and vans sell piles of crisp fried pork, corn and an array of accompaniments – crunchy, spicy and salty. Each stall looks similar, but has its own band of loyal customers.
Carnita (slow cooked pork) tacos, goat tacos with avocado and long chilli peppers, and refreshing coconut water from green coconuts hacked in front of us by a sullen vendor, lead us to Mexico. Perhaps my riskiest move in New York City to date – chopped seafood in the midday sun. At La Esquina de Camaron Mexicano, Pedro Rodriguez, formerly from Mexico City, makes what DiStefano calls “the best Mexican-style seafood cocktail in New York City”. His assistant fills a tall plastic cup with tender pieces of mixed seafood and tops it with a home-made tomato sauce (“My grandmother’s recipe”, he insists), diced onions, coriander, avocado, lime juice and hot sauce.