health, creativity, lifestyle

New York Symbolism: The Food Cart

On my first morning in NYC, I stepped out onto 42nd street. Jetlagged and ravenous, I needed breakfast, pronto. And that’s when I saw it, in all it’s glory. The bagel cart.

Just opposite my building, was a small, ordinary looking food cart. Although simple, the line of people outside was intriguing, so I let the smell of fresh bagels lure me in.

And what an amazing find it was. For just two American dollars I got a classic coffee and bagel deal, smothered with cream cheese of course. It was just what I needed.

This gave me an idea; for the rest of the day, I would only eat street cart food.

The Food Cart is an iconic New York City symbol, dating back to the 1800s when immigrants started food trucks for money, which also gave other immigrants the opportunity to eat food from their own culture. The industry grew, and New York became increasingly popular for it’s street food, as well as diversifying it’s culture through the growing number of ethnic foods available.

What was then a bagel from Poland, a Pretzel from Germany or a pizza from Italy, was now iconic New York cuisine.

This does cause controversy, as some traditional street vendors now face competition from white people selling international food solely for tourist attraction. Whilst this is an issue, it’s always easy to spot the authentic places; cheap, greasy, and damn delicious.

So naturally, I later devoured a $4.50 falafel pita from Kwik Meal on 45th street, followed by a cheeky, but delectable waffle from Wafels and Dinges.


Although I consumed more carbs than one probably needs in a day, I felt accomplished. I had experienced a true symbol of NYC – The Food Cart, as well as a range of international cuisines.

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