Living in New York City, I have many special cultural opportunities available to me; museums, theatre, ballet, opera, etc. And as a cook in New York City, I have many culinary opportunities available to me; restaurants, farmers' markets, cooking media, celebrity clients, new chefs on the scene, food festivals, etc.
This past weekend NYC hosted the World’s Food Fare. Over 100 global vendors gathered together to share their beloved dishes and to shine light on their restaurants or food businesses. There was a lot of hype including beautiful instagram campaigns and enticing magazine write ups. I couldn’t wait to get my tickets to be part of this event. There were celebrity chef judges, and local NYC food writers and media personalities who would be there. It was going to be like something you’d see on Top Chef or one of the cooking competitions on T.V. where they leave the studio kitchen and go into the field to cater an event showcasing their food. Yay!!!
Now, I’m not one that normally has to manage my expectations. I’m not picky. (I’m full of opinions and observations, but they honestly don’t come from a place of judgement.) I always say I’m low maintenance with high standards. I don’t require much, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of doing something - do your best! I’m rooting for you and I’ve showed up to support you - please don’t suck.
When I bought the tickets for the World’s Food Fare - somehow my brain believed this was going to be held on the 1964 World’s Fair Grounds. In my 24 years living here I had never been to this park in Flushing Meadows. I had never seen these historic leftover landmarks except from the window of a taxicab coming home from Laguardia Airport. I couldn’t wait!
Manage One's Expectations:
Seek to prevent disappointment by establishing in advance what can realistically be achieved or delivered by a product, undertaking, course of action, etc.
Fair grounds and food? I didn’t need to manage anything or prepare for any possible disappointment. This was going to be fantastic! I was bringing one of my favorite people with me, he was excited because of my excitement, and we both had watched enough cooking competitions to know what to expect.
Well. I was wrong. The World’s Food Fare was held in the PARKING LOT of Citi Field! It was a glorified tail gating gathering. There was nothing elevated about this experience. It was very similar to the street fairs that happen every single spring/summer weekend in New York City. It just wasn’t special. And it was NOT on the fairgrounds. Booooo.
My friend managed my disappointment like a champ and we made the best of things. We ate a few delicious bites plus a few less than delicious offerings. We were determined to find the fair grounds and tour them ourselves after this ho-hum Food Fare thingy.
We crossed over the wooden bridge connecting the Citi Field sports arena to Flushing Meadows Park. I immediately was given a new perspective on the day. The weather was gorgeous, the perfect spring day of full sun and blooms we’d been aching for. And not for nothing, but good weather in a parking lot has nothing on good weather in a park! I’m walking through rows of cherry blossoms, arm in arm with one of my favorite people, with a full belly looking at historic New York City! All thoughts of a less than stellar Food Fare have vanished.
And here are the lessons: We all get to do great stuff — what makes life really great is the people with whom we share it. Good company is 90% of all good experiences. Are you keeping good company?
And oftentimes a remedy to our disappointment is just a short bridge away. Whether we’re crossing an actual bridge structure to get to a new place or we cross over in thought or perspective, we owe it to ourselves to get moving and go there. Let’s manage our expectations by deciding ahead of time to make the most of something even if it actually comes up short. There’s good stuff everywhere if we’re open enough to see it and receive it.
I travel a great deal, so many of the things I cook for my clients reflect my passport adventures. With India accumulating the most stamps, I have come to love curry in all forms. This one includes Stoneridge Orchards dried cherries. Create your own World Food Fare experience and make something off of your normal food map. My curry photos were taken by Cheryl Stockton of Stockckshot Studio.
Vegetable Curry With Dried Cherries
- 3 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 Tbsp curry powder
- 2 cups butternut squash, diced
- 2 medium potatoes, diced
- 3 cups cauliflower, small florets
- salt and pepper
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3/4 cup dried cherries
- chopped cilantro and peanuts for garnish
- Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook 3 minutes or until translucent.
- Add curry powder, stirring to coat.
- Add the rest of the vegetables and cook for 10 minutes until they begin to brown.
- Stir occasionally as they will stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Add vegetable broth, stirring and scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove from heat and add coconut milk and cherries, stirring to combine.
- Cover for 5 minutes.
- Serve over rice; garnish with cilantro and peanuts.