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Flashback: The Taxi Astrologer’s Masala Dosa

dosa 2

Sometimes the cab ride, and the conversation with the driver, is the most remarkable part of a taxi adventure. Sometimes it’s the food. When I was living in New York, the trip with Vinod Dogra to Ganapati Temple Canteen in Flushing, Queens was one of those rare and wonderful instances ...

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To Little Egypt with the Hungry Cabbie: Part 2

Not only did Ali El Sayed grow up surrounded by great cooks…the chef from Alexandria is also cognizant of the history, the geography, and the suffering at the root of his dishes. Ali's gift goes beyond understanding the synergies of spices. His food wields ancestral force.

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Istanbul: Eduard’s Second Home Run

I could feel the heat from the döner kebab the moment I opened the door to Istanbul, the second Rego Park restaurant* that taxi driver Eduard Zavlanov recommended during our ride through Midtown Manhattan. When he’s craving Turkish food, the musician from Uzbekistan told me that this is his favorite ...

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Glorious Dumplings and Rocking Pilav, Off Bukharan Broadway

Two years ago, 30,000 food pilgrims and I invaded the town of Famaillá, in the Tucuman province of northwestern Argentina, for the National Empanada Festival. For three days, we feasted on some of the greatest empanadas in the hemisphere. Most of them were stuffed with grass-fed Argentine beef, and all ...

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Boris, Eduard and Two Kinds of Heartbreak

Two taxi rides, one Russian and one Uzbeki-Persian-Jewish cabbie added up to a couple of mind-bending stories, zero lunch, and two tantalizing restaurant recommendations. Boris – who was born in “a small town in Russia called Moscow” and used to fly planes for Aeroflot – told me that he eats ...

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Souvlaki and a Second Strike of Lightning

After five blocks in motion and 15 minutes of curbside conversation, José Pego finally decided I’d better try the lamb souvlaki at Opa! The cabbie – who emigrated to New York as a teenager, dropped out of NYU and has been driving a taxi for 32 years – was born ...

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The Joy of Jamaican

Though three days passed between my taxi ride with Constance Marie Barnes and the trip to her favorite Jamaican restaurant, the meal at The Door felt like a seamless continuation of the easy warmth I found in her cab. The restaurant was packed with a well-dressed, after-church crowd when my ...

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Constance Marie and The Door to Jamaica

When she’s not driving a yellow cab or working toward her nursing degree, Constance Marie Barnes makes a potato salad “that can slap your mama,” prays for her passengers, and goes to McDonald’s for one reason: their bathroom. The pint-sized cabbie from Queens – who would go vegan if it ...

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things (So Far)

A summer of taxi adventures in New York City has led to some astoundingly delicious things to eat. In the interest of exploiting remembered pleasures, here are my seven favorite cabbie-recommended dishes to date – in random order. If you’re anywhere near the Biggest Apple, I hope you have a ...

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