Tag Archives: Egg Cream

Story: ‘The Egg Cream, an Excellent Portal to the Past’

It was over an egg cream, or two, that I concluded, or finally admitted, that I was indeed a treasure trove of knowledge, insight and overall sensibility regarding a whole rat’s nest of pop culture and various related concoctions. It is all stored in my mind, still whirling away, processing and extrapolating. I couldn’t just assume that what I knew was something that everyone else knew. Ah, and then, conversely, I couldn’t dismiss what I knew as something other people would not be interested in. Well, I knew this all along–isn’t that what led me to this blog? Yeah, and it led me to this diner, this gloriously runny egg and pancake and this most banal yet delectable egg cream! There are many folks out there who still admire, love and can’t resist a good egg cream. It doesn’t matter how many of a younger generation might act as if they don’t care. Forgive these dewy-eyed naysayers for they know not what they do. Because, given a chance, they would reveal that they care very much.

“Isn’t that exactly how it was for you?” I asked my young friend, Nelson here, the guy I was told would give me a tour and help me set up my Ghost Busters mission. They promised me an all-expenses-paid residency and all I had to do was make heads or tails out of the ghost in the attic, or the staircase, or just out of view each night from an upper window. I was told that my unique background was very attractive for this assignment. I’d pleaded that I was nothing more than an over-rated dilettante at best. But the foundation, the whole board, agreed that I possessed a certain sensitivity to matters, esoteric, cerebral and ephemeral, that they just couldn’t resist at least giving it a try. So, maybe I was an unconventional choice, but, what the hell, you only live once, right? Everyone said I was a pop culture sensitive! And it took someone like me to draw out the ghost, given that it was such a fanciful creature of pulp and the fantastic. It was often called “the ultimate figment of the imagination.” I wasn’t sure what that implied or what exactly a “figment” was supposed to be. Truth be told, I have more than a passing connection with the supernatural.

“So, anyway, given the chance, you’re as charmed by an egg cream as I am, right?” I knew what he’d say. Finally, letting out a sigh, “Of course! Henry, I think I love egg creams almost as much as you do, even if I’m the last person who would have tried one out. I’m more of a beer guy.”

“Well, beer is a whole other subject but it definitely has its own quirky history, like an egg cream.” I gave him an empathetic smile. I think, only recently, did he get this gig involving a haunted house. Was he more a real estate guy or more of a spooky ghost and goblin guy? I wasn’t sure. It took me a while to understand that maybe his most important purpose was simply to rally me into action and get this whole thing off the ground.

The magic of an egg cream.

“Everything has a history.”

My head was spinning, just a bit, but I wanted to press forward. It had been a wild ride thus far. Only a few hours ago I had been in Seattle. Here I was crisscrossing all over Manhattan. It was a lucky turn that led us to Landmark Coffee Shop, deep in the Bowery, one of the great haunts of so many happy souls, lost or otherwise.

“I mean a history that you could turn into a novel, that kind of history, with twists and turns, romance, mystery.”

“What is it about an egg cream that grabs you most?”

“The humanity of it all. No one knows, for sure, how the egg cream came to be but it’s very likely a case of simply making do with limited resources. A little sugar, or syrup, a little milk, and a little fizzy water. That’s all you need and you’ve got an egg cream.”

“Yeah, well, I’d prefer a Coke.”

“Exactly. Coke, and other soft drinks, paved the way for the demise of the egg cream. It’s a relic of another time. But those with heart and soul will seek it out, keep it alive and well.”

“Okay then, that’s why they hired you for this ghost whisperer gig. You love a good ghost story. You want to dance with ghosts. And then there’s that book you wrote about that ghost . . . but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.”

“Yeah, we can discuss that later on. I’m glad we managed to at least initally agree on the qualities of the noble egg cream. I’m telling you, it’s an excellent portal into the past! Perhaps in ways . . . beyond the scope of this convivial little conversation . . . I’m talking about ancient rites . . .”

“You know what I really like, a good root beer float! That’s sort of like an egg cream, isn’t it?”

“Pretty close but not really.”

–to be continued.

Enjoy the video where I show you how to make an egg cream and give you a mini-tour of a classic New York diner that serves egg creams. If you find this interesting, you may also want to check out my book, Sometimes You Just Want an Egg Cream, available thru the Comics Grinder store.

In my video, there’s a demo on how to make your own egg cream. The beauty of the egg cream is how versatile this little treat is. You can get fancy and order an artisan version of it or you probably have the ingredients you need right in your own kitchen. For this demo, I used the Brooklyn Seltzer Boys Egg Cream Kit. So, you don’t have to live in or near New York or Brooklyn to get the real deal. You can order this kit and have yourself quite an authentic experience. The second video gives you a tour of Brooklyn Seltzer Boys, the remaining source for true authentic seltzer.

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Filed under Comics, Fiction, Henry Chamberlain, Story

SOMEBODY FEED PHIL THE BOOK Review — The Must-Have Travel/CookBook

It’s the series come to life!

Somebody Feed Phil the Book. by Phil Rosenthal and Jenn Garbee. Simon & Schuster. New York. 2022. 352 pp. $32.50

What is not to like about Somebody Feed Phil the Book? It’s the series come to life! If you are a fan of the food and travel show, created and hosted by Phil Rosenthal, well, this is the essential companion piece. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve viewed all the episodes on Netflix and occasionally still go back to some of your favorites. Totally fine. I’m not judging. I’ll go you one better and confess that I was an early adopter to the series and got my better half hooked on it. After that, we went back and picked clean the original PBS series, also created by Phil. Finally, we went back to other stuff related to Phil, chiefly the comedy classic sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond, the show that Phil Rosenthal created and wrote for and firmly established him in the first place. I wonder, does this not ring any bells for anyone? I sense there was a time when Phil was more under the radar and now it really seems that, dare I say, Everybody Loves Phil!

The wonders of Bangkok.

The first thing I did was go through the table of contents and see which cities made the cut. I was surprised not to see Paris or Florence. But I was happy to see that New York and London, among others, did make the cut. Here’s the thing, for fans of the show, this is really special and that sense of the special should carry over quite well to just about anyone. What you get is a genuinely delightful host, who cherishes and features his loved ones on the show, provides numerous heart-felt and useful bits of insights on travel and, last but not least, pays tribute to a favorite subject of mine, food. It’s like the whole show in your pocket, or your kitchen table. And you get all these recipes! I keep rediscovering my love for good cookbooks when I am presented with a book such as this that is following a theme (in this case, it is predominantly a theme of adventure and appreciation). Thanks to this book, I can honestly say, I’m seriously looking at traveling to Thailand. The first city featured in the series, and the book, is Bangkok and it’s Phil’s unbridled love for the food and culture that has completely won me over.

Yes, the recipes are solid. You could live off the recipes in this book.

And so I dove in and went for it. No, not the travel part yet. I dove in and followed the recipe for Khao Soi, which Phil admitted to being his favorite dish, or pretty darn close to it. So, yeah, I fired up the test kitchen and we had ourselves quite a feast. I learned so much from that experience. I think it comes down to always being mindful of how much you get back when you make that extra effort. Now, this dish did seem to require some patience but, overall, it’s so much fun to make, relatively easy and lends itself to so many variations. Basically, you need meat, noodles, some chili paste, coconut milk and the rest of the ingredients just fall into place. Yes, the recipes are solid. You could live off the recipes in this book.

A fantastic tribute to New York City.

Again, the ability to enjoy the series in a different format is priceless. Of course, it was inevitable that I’d go to my favorite episode, the one devoted to New York City. Hands down, this is a city made up of restaurant customers of one kind or another, whether nondescript or celebrated, from the most humble to the most fancy. Pizza, of course, gets a lot of attention. And then there is one quintessential delight in particular, the noble Egg Cream, an utterly simple drink made up of chocolate syrup, seltzer and milk. But there are essential details. Aim for about equal parts to each ingredient and serve in a chilled glass. The syrup needs to be Fox’s U-Bet. And the way the drink is mixed can cause great debate. It’s Phil’s intense interest in culture and food that inspired me to create my own tribute to the egg cream. Perhaps I digress a bit but it’s all worth noting and, from what I’ve seen, this is definitely Phil’s favorite treat.

A taste of New Orleans. It’s all about the food and the culture.

The whole point of the show is to celebrate your favorite foods but then go beyond your comfort zone. Travel! See the world. That’s what life is all about: mixing and mingling with folks from different cultures. Phil has proven time and time again to be an excellent host, an all-time great evangelist on adventurous eating and traveling. In many ways, this book is his life’s work. He’d laugh–but he’d also nod and give you one of his goofy, and worldly-wise, smiles.

Somebody Feed Phil the Book is available as of October 18, 2022. Find it at Simon & Schuster. For information on the book tour, go here.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Food, New York City, Travel

New Book: ‘Sometimes You Just Want an Egg Cream’ by Henry Chamberlain

Sometimes You Just Want an Egg Cream

On Wednesday, 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Life as we’d known it had changed forever. We are all still in this together with renewed hope and resilience. Many of us became creative. And for many of us who are already creative, we’ve found ways to explore further, and seek out joy, humor and grace. I spent 2020 completing a special graphic novel project as well as this whimsical tribute to the New York Egg Cream. You can get the book in print and on digital. Sometimes You Just Want an Egg Cream adds up to a neat showcase of artwork as well as a guidebook tour involving New York history, culture, and egg creams. It is a long time coming and it feels like the perfect time is now to share this with you.

Sometimes You Just Want an Egg Cream!

Briefly, an egg cream is an amazing soda drink, preferably chocolate. But within that simple mix of milk, seltzer and syrup, all kinds of dreams and memories are made. It was back in the ’80s, during that young lean time, that I made my first visit to New York City. I was coming from Houston, which is a hell of a big city but with a small town character if that makes any sense. I was looking forward to roughing it for a couple of weeks and staying in the no-frills yet intellectually lively 92nd Street Y. What I was not expecting was to have the airline lose my luggage! So, there I was nearly naked except for the clothes on my back for two weeks with the mean streets right along with the cultured streets ahead of me.

A book devoted to the egg cream!

Well, I was young and full of energy and imagination. I gorged on all kinds of sights and sounds. I had my list of things to see and do based upon all kinds of reading I’d done: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Met, Broadway, the Strand, Coney Island, St. Marks Place! And, moving along at a quick pace, I invited it all in: high and low; bright and dull; big and small; euphoric, melancholic, erudite and electronic. Brash youth that I was, I went for the people’s food, not fancy-schmancy. I was still many years away from taking any notice of Michelin ratings. I delighted in street vendor hot dogs and pizza by the slice. In fact, I still love that grub! And, in my young dewy-eyed state, my mind was first blown to the charms of the knish at Yonah Schimmel Knish right along with the awesome experience of pastrami at Katz’s Deli, and the delectable high of the egg cream at Gem Spa–as well as at Lexington Candy Shop! I was as much in love with the Upper East Side as I was with the Lower East Side! Ever since, whenever I visit NYC, I stop by somewhere and have an egg cream, which is what led me to create this book. Recently, I even connected with Gem Spa and they have some of my art on sale at their site. So, one thing leads to another!

Gem Spa, an East Village legend!

I also have related items, like cool prints and t-shirts, which you can buy right here. And I will keep playing around with this. I foresee more books and related events. If you get the book, you’ll see what I  mean. I should also add here that I fully encourage you to buy one of my New York Egg Cream t-shirts and then post a photo of you wearing it, preferably while having an egg cream at one of my favorite spots in NYC. Who knows, it could happen! You might be reading this right now and thinking that would be a pretty rad thing to do! And so the egg cream revolution is on!

Lexington Candy Shop, an Upper West Side classic!

I will definitely post again items from the book and hopefully start a whole big wonderful New York Egg Cream conversation! What is your egg cream memory? I’d love to know. You can comment here or contact me directly. And join the egg cream club!

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Filed under Books, COVID-19, Henry Chamberlain, New York City