Friday, October 7, 2011

Bite Size

Tuesday night, I went to an event at Organic Avenue. My friend Ashley Koff was hosting a seminar for her new book Mom Energy. Organic Avenue is on Suffolk Street on the lower East side of Manhattan. From where I live and work it’s the equivalent of getting to San Diego from Portland, Maine. Market Melissa and I decided the subway was best and that we’d meet on the 14th street platform. The talk started at 6pm and so, at rush hour, the train was fairly crowded when I got on. I made a seat for myself between two people each greedily occupying 1.5 seats on either side. It strikes me as extremely selfish that people sprawl out while others don’t have seats but, undeterred,  I directed my tush at the yellow-orange colored half seat giving them the choice to move over or have me sit on them.

Seated and kindle-less, I looked around. Directly across from me sat two ladies talking. One of them had the most beautiful purse; it was woven with all different shades of brown, really unusual. As I contemplated the purse, the woman reached into it and took out a package of rice crackers. I couldn’t completely see but my guess would be Edward and Sons (gluten free!) black sesame rice crackers. The crackers are divided into compartments with maybe 15 rounds in each one. Purse lady, with rather large hands took the majority of one compartment in her hand. She offered the package to her friend who reached in with tweezer-like fingers extracting two black crackers.

There was something about this interaction that I couldn’t stop watching. First, I find a lot of public eating sort of revolting. I suppress my need to fully inhale when riding the subway and here these women were snacking away. I can’t help but thinking there are only certain places we should eat and the sidewalk, subway or drivers seat of a car don’t make my list. Purse lady disagreed. She popped her crackers whole into her mouth. Like the dolphins  with fish at SeaWorld they seemed to disappear without visible chewing.  Tweezer-fingers held her two crackers between her thumb and pointer finger. She was telling a story and every so often she would bring the cracker to her mouth biting off ¼ of the cracker max at a time. There was about one bite per stop on the train.  Purse-y started on the second compartment and once again passed the package to her friend who shook her head declining. I was staring to such an inappropriate extent I may have caused purse-y to unzip her gorgeous bag and put the crackers away. At Times Square they got off; my impromptu focus group about snack habits adjourned. A pack of mall chicks, with cheap purses, took the newly-vacant orange seats.

I could’ve mentioned earlier that Pursey was slightly rotund and Tweez, like her frail fingers, was petite but I don’t think that matters. I loved the slow, dainty way Tweez ate; however, there are many times I eat more like Pursey. Soon enough I was at my stop, I got off and found Melissa. At Organic Avenue (which I will tell you more about) we were greeted by Ashley and an array of juices.  I selected a shot glass sized cucumber juice and took little, slow sips just as I imagined Tweez would’ve.
What do you think about street or subway eating? Do you watch what and how people eat? And do you eat more like Pursey or Tweez? 


  1. First, I absolutely, completely agree with you about people who spread out on the subway! Drives my husband crazy too. Especially on crowded trains.

    It also grosses me out when people eat on the subway or bus and sometimes walking down the street. I was on a packed bus this past summer, during rush hour, and a guy was eating chicken wings! It smelled up the entire bus and he had sauce all over his fingers and face. I couldn't help but stare at that one. I understand maybe people are rushing to get somewhere and starving, but there is a line.

    Did you know Organic Avenue just opened a store on Lex in the 50's? I've walked by it on my way to work but haven't yet stopped in.

  2. Great commentary, Lauren! You are funny.

    I am of the "there are certain times when you just need to eat" camp. And, being a sales rep whose home office is in Astoria and who is in Manhattan sometimes from 7am to 10pm, I often HAVE to eat on the subway because it's the only place I have time. I make an effort to only pack non-obtrusive and non-odorous meals and snacks, such as almonds or a piece of fruit or maybe a salad but I try and be courteous. I just can't go too long with a growling stomach before I become mean spirited and panicky.

    I think you make such a brilliant observation between Pursey and Tweez and their snacking style. I think that if I could slow down and nibble rather than INHALE most everything I eat I would look less Pursey and more Tweez myself.

  3. I eat when I'm hungry. Sometimes that's on public transportation. BUT (and this is a big but!) I think that it's really disrespectful to eat strong-smelling foods in enclosed public spaces. Two ladies eating crackers? That wouldn't bother me. But I do love the name Tweez! Ha!

  4. Ha... I love the way you told this story and there are definitely places you should and should NOT eat!!

  5. This is hysterical! You must write a book - love "Tweez"

    I am with Stephanie and cameo, sometimes I need to eat on the way to somewhere but it's always a mini luna bar or something non-offensive. My biggest peeve is people eating Mcdonalds on the train - it stinks forever, even once they leave!

  6. I eat like Tweez.

    Eating on the subway seems a lot like eating in the bathroom. I watch the way people eat...probably to the point of rudeness! People who pop an entire cracker or cookie or shove as much sandwich into their mouth as possible before clomping down the teeth to bite fascinate me. Fascination as in the sort of "don't-look-away" thing that happens when a car spins out of control right in front of you.

    My co-worker eats yogurt like this: huge dollop of yogurt on the spoon, spoon in mouth, spoon comes out clean, swallow. I eat yogurt like this: smidge of yogurt on tip of spoon, yogurt on tongue, smoosh yogurt in my mouth, swallow. She rips through a container of yogurt in about 12 seconds. It's ... well ... it's hard to look away.

  7. Pursey and Tweez! You're making me laugh! Love those names and I'm really trying to get a good picture of them in my head. Don't ride the subway much, but the times I have, when visiting cities with underground transportation, I don't think I ate anything on board. I have no problem eating in public places, but eating on a subway doesn't sounds too appealing to me. I can eat fast at times, but think, overall, I eat more like Tweez.

  8. I love how you tell a story =) I can totally picture the entire scene/ordeal/scarf-fest ;) I'm not a pig public nosher... I choose to take care of a small fruit and nut bar or a 100cal pack of plain almonds in the car if anything. Subway eating strikes me with a germ frenzy.

    I eat like Pursey when i'm overdue for my meal and famished (ususally this occurs at home or on a road trip with the hubs) and like tweez the rest of the time I think? nice balance I hope =)

    Have a fantastic weekend love! <3

  9. Thanks for the comments, away and hard to answer everyone. I'm so with you on the germs and unless it's at the park or just "fuel" I can't enjoy food on public transportation. Good job being part Pursey, part Tweez.

  10. What a funny post! Firstly, I am so with you about Suffolk Street being soooo far out. There are some fantastic restaurants on the LES and very occasionally I do make the trek down there.

    Also, hate that about subway riders. The worst is when people put their bag on a seat while the train is full! I have a whole post about the things I have seen on my new commute this past month!

    As for eating on the subway I get very conscious about eating in public when others around me are not eating. More because of what a mess I make! So I assume that others too should refrain from eating on the subway?Probably slightly unreasonable? :-)

  11. Girl! Your comment reminds me of when I was visiting New Orleans.... and lemme tell ya, whether its Savannah Georgia or New Orleans, LA.... when the veggies are lacking.. i start losing my mind! stay strong Lauren! i'll have a giant salad waiting for you if you ever visit NC =) mwah!

  12. When I eat I sit down. At a table. With a fork and a knife. I'm just particular though so maybe it's just me (and you!).

    I guess the equivalent here would be eating in your car, which I find quite revolting. Because a. who wants crumbs all over their car, and b. It just gross to watch someone sitting next to you on the freeway chomping down on a banana.

  13. I hate when people spread out on subway seats. And I have no problem inserting myself!

    Regarding subway eating - I do it. But it's snacks - a few almonds, 1/2 energy bar, etc. And it's often because it's the only time I have to grab anything to eat and so the blood sugar doesn't go plummeting post-gym as I rush off to the next place.

    That being said - I HATE when people eat a full meal. Or anything substantial. It's gross. I don't need to watch anyone eat McDonald's or some chicken and rice meal. It smells - and not in a good way and let's face it, people tend to be complete slobs (I wonder what they are like in their homes). So while I would not be upset about the crackers, despite wondering why she ate so many, anything more than that is just gross.

  14. I think we have a rule system that public food a) can't smell b) can't be messy c) can be used if starving and discrete d) you eat like Tweeze or Tweeze-ish.

  15. I grew up in a small town so the first time I ever used public transportation was when I was in my 20s. I was so nervous every time I was on the bus that I don't think I could have eaten even if I wanted to :)

    I'm also a cross between Pursey and Tweez - if I know you and am comfortable around you I don't really care what I look like when I eat, if I just met you or am still getting to know you I'm more of a Tweez :)

  16. Lauren, this made me smile. Funny ....I am a cross between Pursey and Tweez....if I am hungry I need to eat without much concern of how it looks...but like you I would be turned off eating on the train. :) Fun post.