Welcome to the pilot episode of Off The Eaten Path, a new series in development from Cinqua and Film Food. We’ve all drooled, probably with more than a tinge of jealousy, as TV personalities like Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern tuck into exotic dishes in far away lands. Chances are we’ll never have the time or inclination to take a trip to Timbuktu or Tajikistan, but, thankfully, we don’t have to. A smorgasbord of international specialties awaits us in own backyards when we go Off The Eaten Path.
The American “melting pot” reflects a culinary heritage greatly enriched by the influence of immigrants and the cuisines they bring with them (memo to Donald Trump). Now it’s possible to find Cambodian in Kansas, Somali food in Minnesota, and Sri Lankan food in Staten Island–to name just a few of the exciting flavors waiting to be discovered. Celebrating America’s diverse culinary landscape, Off The Eaten Path, explores the ethnic enclaves in our own local communities, allowing you to take a trip without ever leaving home.
We kick off the series in Brooklyn, a place long known for its diversity, which is now being threatened by gentrification. Even as a resident of this vast borough, it’s possible to miss incredible neighborhoods like Sunset Park, better known as Brooklyn Chinatown, which I knew very little about before making this episode. Deciding what to eat there can be overwhelming, so I enlisted the aid of an expert—the charismatic food personality and radio host, Leiti Hsu. Though of Taiwanese descent, Leiti speaks Mandarin, the favored dialect here as opposed to Cantonese, which is spoken in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Thanks to her knowledge and insight, I was able to get so much more out of the meals we shared at East Harbor Seafood Palace and The Fei Long Food Court.
But Brooklyn Chinatown is not strictly about food. Though most of the business here are Chinese-owned and cater to the overwhelmingly Chinese population, you just may find something that speaks to you. For me, it was The Sunshine Herbs Corp., which reminded me of a spice shop. The people who worked there were very helpful, and taught me a little bit more about Chinese medicine, which has been around for thousands of years.
All in all, a day in Brooklyn Chinatown was an excursion of discovery, providing not only full cultural immersion, but a full stomach as well. If you live in New York, you have no excuse not to visit. It’s only a subway ride away.
Off The Eaten Path is a joint production of Cinqua Productions, headed by my buddy John Carluccio, and Film Food Productions, better known as me. BRIC TV, Brooklyn’s very own cable channel, sponsored this pilot and aired segments on their flagship show, Brooklyn Live. But in view of the show’s huge national potential, we are currently shopping it to various outlets, and hope to bring you the entire series very soon. We welcome your comments, feedback, or funding at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.