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The Demise of the Sainted Arepa Lady


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The Demise of the Sainted Arepa Lady

Jim Leff | Jun 2, 2003 12:53 PM

Last night I posted a foolish message. I asked people not to launch a political debate, but I myself posted a highly political message. It was inappropriate, and I apologize. I'd like to start again with a posting focused on deliciousness, rather than larger issues. Hopefully the following will spur a discussion more within the context and boundaries of our highly chowcentric discussion.

I ask that everyone PLEASE avoid inflating this to a larger issue or digressive political debate. It's about (and only about) The Arepa Lady, who many of us love.


The Arepa Lady of Jackson Heights tells me she likely won't be in business for more than a couple more months, tops. The city is cracking down on street vendors.

Neither the site nor I will "take a stand" on this or any other political issue. Chowhound is an apolitical site that doesn't do political debates. We chowhounds rise and fall with the tide, finding and enjoying whatever's best under any prevailing conditions. We're all about the deliciousness.

But The Sainted Arepa Lady is a paragon of deliciousness. She is not just "a street vendor." She's a cultural treasure for the city. I've eaten in 21 countries and in thousands of eateries and never found a chef with a more magical, deft touch than that of The Arepa Lady. In my opinion, nobody offers more consistently heightened deliousness, bite after bite, year after year. The Arepa Lady is loved by many, she's been extolled in two big-time books (Von Bremzen and Trillin) and countless articles, and the thought of her being "cleaned up" to improve our quality of life sickens me.

I hope an angel comes to the rescue and The Sainted Arepa Lady is not lost with the bathwater. She's not representative of street vendors or of any other group. She's not equivalent to the dudes with the honey peanuts, watery hot dogs, or scary tacos; she transcends grouping. She's an individual - an individual who, it must be hoped, will somehow be allowed to radically improve many New Yorkers' quality of life for years to come.



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