They say that the way to a man’s heart is his stomach, but I believe that the path actually leads directly to the brain. Merely mentioning food can unlock troves of memories thought to have disappeared long ago. This year, I asked the festival-goers waiting in line at our Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival to share the memories traditional foods like egg rolls and egg creams evoke for them, and the responses poured in. Here are a few of their answers:
“‘Egg Cream’ was what Harriet the Spy ordered at the restaurant after school in NYC!” -Eileen, grew up in Westchester
“Growing up, we would order Chinese food every week. My favorite were the egg rolls, which were quite a novelty for a Jewish girl in the Bronx in the 1940s. Eventually, the woman taking orders recognized my voice when I’d call!”
“First read about egg creams in ‘Road Food Good Food.’ Immediately made them for everyone!”
“I am from Canton (Guanhzhou), China. I believe egg rolls are a type of dim sum (a genre of Cantonese food.) However, I did not like egg rolls at all when I was in China. I started to like them when I came to the US and ate my first egg roll in a Chinese restaurant here. I guess its just the feeling of home that makes me like egg rolls again.” -Liyan, a wonderful MAES intern
“In college, I’d invite my crushes back to my dorm for egg creams!”
Do you have a favorite egg roll or egg cream memory to share? Comment below– we’d love to hear it!
At our annual Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival this past Sunday, I celebrated my 5th year of pouring, stirring and sipping egg creams, the official beverage of the Lower East Side (in my estimation, at least.) Serving egg creams to a crowd of 8,000 is like running a marathon: a true test of endurance, ending in sweet, chocolaty victory. We came, we stirred, and we conquered, selling out our entire supply!
You may be wondering: what exactly is an egg cream? According to Wikipedia,
“An egg cream is a classic beverage consisting of chocolate syrup, milk, and seltzer, probably dating from the late 19th century, and is especially associated with Brooklyn, home of its alleged inventor, candy store owner Louis Auster. It contains neither eggs nor cream. The egg cream is almost exclusively a fountain drink; although there have been several attempts to bottle it, none has been wholly successful, as its fresh taste and characteristic head requires mixing of the ingredients just before drinking. The drink can be compared to a traditional ice cream soda, though it contains no ice cream.”
To make an egg cream at home in an 8-ounce cup, here is a quick recipe handed down from John Heller, pictured above. At Eldridge Street, he is the Grand Poobah of the Cream, and indeed taught me how to make my very first. I’ve since used this recipe hundreds of times, and it never fails to impress:
- Pour Fox’s U-Bet syrup into cup, approximately 1 inch thick. Accept no imitations.
- Add a splash of milk about the same height, stir vigorously.
- Add seltzer to the mixture, ending slightly below the top of cup. Beware! Overflowing is an occupational hazard.
- Stir, serve and enjoy!
Are you a pickle person? Is deli your delicacy? Love lime rickies? Tell us about your favorite East Side Treat!