Being Brave in Chinatown

This past weekend the weather was gorgeous here in NYC. As I triumphantly left my apartment on Sunday afternoon scarf and glove-less and ready for adventure, it felt nothing like the end of October. I’m sure that’s a bad thing for our planet, but man it felt nice outside! We were headed towards Little Italy with thoughts of biscotti and canolli’s dancing in our head’s…

The thing about Little Italy is, it’s hard to get there without walking at least a block or two through what’s known as the ‘Chinatown’ neighborhood in Manhattan. Honestly, I try to avoid it as often as I can because the crowds, souvenir’s, and constant whispers of ‘handbags, watches’  greatly overwhelms me. Yet I have to say – every time I venture into that part of town, I learn or see something new. First it was my squid rinds find in a random Chinese drugstore, then it was red bean paste cakes for breakfast (which actually aren’t half-bad), and this weekend it was frogs in a bucket. Or, ranas en el balde. (I’m working on my Spanish ;-))

I experienced frog legs once in France and they were fine. Nothing special I didn’t think, but not repulsive either. Seeing these poor creatures this weekend though – meant for being purchased as dinner – try to scratch and crawl their way out of the bucket, was sad and just gross.

I cringed as I watched a fearless old woman reach into the bucket (without rolling up her sleeves) and proceed to prod, poke, and inspect every frog until she found the one she wanted, then snapped at the market man to hold open a plastic bag while she threw her prize in. Ugh.

Watching animals displayed in such unpleasant and disturbing ways always jars me a bit. Hence, another reason I don’t particularly favor Chinatown. They tend to have a much more tactless way of dealing with dinner than I prefer.

Experiences like this make me first consider vegetarianism, then when I realize that’s probably not a realistic option, I at least promise myself to always buy the best quality, grass-fed, & organic meat that I can. It’s not always easy to splurge on high quality items while making the salary that I’m making… but I would never want to consume an animal that led such a miserable life, yet I probably do more often than I’d like to think.

So I have these feelings of guilt in seeing what animals go through for our dinner, yet I don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy meat for dinner occasionally. What’s the best option for me? I know Whole Foods carries some pretty high quality meat. Are there better options in NYC?



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