We moved to Brooklyn from Brighton & Hove 17 days ago. These are my field notes.
Food, drink, etc.
- I’ll start with food, because I always start with food.
- The food is better than anything you can get in the UK, including London, by sheer quality, variety and how dense those options are. I don’t care what you say. This is a fact.
- Seamless is a mobile app that you can order takeout from – imagine two or three hundred 4 or 5 star options that will deliver to your home within 30-45 mins, stored in your phone with your card details. *PUBLIC HEALTH WARNING*.
- For better or worse, much of the US culinary genius lies in blending salty and sweet. In cookies, with bacon and syrup, or whatever. If it’s sweet, they’ll make it salty. If it’s salty, you’ll get a sweet twist.
- Most things taste saltier here (tortilla chips, bread, peanut butter etc). Gotta watch that.
- Buying food in shops is more expensive in general than in the UK
- We found a good wine shop with reasonable prices (phew).
- A pickleback is a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. Love dem.
- Smorgasburg - 60 food and drink independents selling their Ethiopian / organic fruit slushies / Donuts / Lobster Rolls, weekly on Saturdays in a small park by the East River. Weekly.
- The peanut butter part of the aisle in the supermarket is impressive. PB FTW.
Culture and stuff.
- New Yorkers are as obsessed with the weather as Brits. It’s brilliant! They love bitching and speculating and the whole damn weather thing. They do it well. We unite on this.
- Related: knowing the location of things is a badge of honour for New Yorkers. “It’s on 14th and sixth”. “No, fifth”. “That’s right, 14th and fifth – they moved their last year”.
- People talk on their mobile headphones as they walk more than they do in the UK. Jabbering away.
- We think as Brits we know American celebrities (or I did), but of course we just know the top 10% – many conversations reference celebs I have never heard of. (I hope I retain this ignorance.)
- Grilled cheese is Americanese for cheese on toast – for once*, we are more literal than them. (See: sidewalk).
- When people don’t understand my accent, they react as if I am stupid. Like this: “HUH?!”. It happens about once every two days.
- In NYC, no one cares about your fancy British accent. (SF, also).
- On the other hand, colleagues tell me that if people hear you have a British accent, they assume you are smarter than you actually are. So it’s not remarked upon, but it gives you a little upgrade in the intellectual dept. Useful.
- The Mrs has been saying ‘kinda’ way more than usual. Noticeable uptick. (Kids haven’t started school yet).
- People are friendlier. It’s just a fact. And some of it is lip service, but most of it isn’t.
- Walking around busy Manhattan is no different to walking around busy London – the whole tough New Yorkers thing is only really apparent when it comes to two things. Hailing cabs. And being a busy metropolitan person in brutal winter conditions.
- A homeless guy, wrapped in many layers, apparently asleep on a bench in the subway, gave me correct directions when other commuters didn’t know the answer.
- The Social Security office has been my only real perspective of the real, rest of American life. Grim.
- On his impressions of NYC, our oldest offered “on the one hand it’s big and scary, and on the other hand it’s safe and secure”. +1 to that.
- Subway is quick and easy. Apparently the platforms get horrifically hot in summer (the carriages are AC).
- Consumer electronics stuff seems much cheaper – from TVs to Apple gear.
- IKEA Brooklyn is exactly like IKEA in Croydon. For better or worse.
- Transition from (small ish) house to (large ish) apartment has not been claustrophobic as feared – in fact, to our surprise, it’s actually been quite liberating
- On the liberating front, we await our cargo shipment not with eager anticipation but more the fear of an impending tidal wave of old junk we’ve been without for 6 months. Shipping companies should offer a ‘nuke it’ setting – push the button, they burn/eBay it. If you ever do this, make a clean break.