here is a little bit about the area......big melting pot from early 20th century.....irish, italian, jewish, hispanic......plus harlem has come back to life with all kinds of rockin' southern cuisine.....the food had got to be unbelievable!!!!! New York City The Five Boroughs Contrary to popular belief, NYC is comprised of five boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Pervading Manhattan-centrism has deep historical roots. The island's original inhabitants, the Algonquin, called it Manahatta or Heavenly Land. The British were the first to call the island "New York," after James, Duke of York, the brother of Charles II. Only in 1898 did the other four boroughs join the city. Flanked on the east by the "East River" (actually a strait) and on the west by the Hudson River, Manhattan is a sliver of an island, measuring only 13 mi. long and 2½ mi. wide. Sizeable Queens and Brooklyn are on the other side of the East River, and Staten Island is to the south. North of Manhattan sits the Bronx, the only borough connected by land to the rest of the US ok....enough geography......on to the food......first recipe.... Penne alla Vodka Serves 4 This is not a traditional Italian recipe. I know because I was there -- more or less -- at its invention. It was the early 1970s and vodka was a relatively new spirit to Italians. To promote the consumption of vodka in Italy, vodka distillers provided restaurants with gizmos that kept both the vodka and vodka glasses chilled and they held recipe contests among Italian chefs. This dish was the rage in fashion-conscious Italian circles in the mid '70s. I never see it anymore in Italy. But Americans are entranced by the idea, even though it is nothing more than a tomato cream sauce with hot pepper and a good dose of vodka, which, to be frank, is hardly detectable in the finished dish. To be totally historically correct, I should add that the hot pepper is a late addition. The original recipe was made with pepper-flavored vodka. 1 pound penne 2 large cloves garlic 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter 2 cups tomato puree or canned crushed tomatoes 1/4 cup vodka Salt to taste Hot red pepper flakes to taste 1/2 cup heavy cream For the penne, bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil with at least 1 heaping tablespoon of salt. Meanwhile, over medium-low heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil for about 2 minutes, until soft but not browned. Add the tomato puree and the vodka. Bring to a simmer and let simmer briskly for 3 minutes. (this cooks off the alcohol.) Season to taste with salt and hot pepper flakes, overseasoning slightly to account for the cream that will be added. Put the penne to cook and while it is boiling, add the cream to the tomato sauce and simmer 2 or 3 minutes. Drain the pasta well, toss with the sauce and serve immediately.