Monday, May 3, 2010

What's in a name?

I promised to entertain you all with a description of the nearby restaurants on my little block, but I think I'm going to go a different way. I promise you, readers, I don't take the breaking of blog promises (however offhand and vague they might be) lightly. I will say that Astoria is home to what they claim is the "only donut burger in New York City." I haven't verified that claim per se, but you may as well understand now that this blog will not be super concerned with "facts." However, if any one of my (no doubt many) readers wants to come forward with proof (preferably photographic) of having consumed a donut burger (a hamburger on which the bun has been cast out in favor of a plain glazed donut, sliced in half and toasted) in any of the five boroughs, I will gladly blog a retraction.

At any rate, I gave up the "describing the restaurants nearby" thing in part because I realized I have nothing to say about them other than that I enjoy living close to so much food, as well as because I've received my first question. That's right! Astute reader frenchteacher (a pseudonym I strongly suspect is this blogger's mother) posed our first question. She (I'm assuming) wants to know if Astoria is named for John Jacob Astor. As a matter of fact, John Jacob Astor is the namesake of our beloved hamlet by the East River. According to my sources (that is to say, wikipedia), the area now known as Astoria was originally called Hallet's Cove, but was renamed after Astor in order to persuade him to invest $2,000 in the neighborhood. Somehow, he managed to get away with only ever paying $500 of the promised amount, but the name still stuck. Apparently, despite being able to view Astoria from his Manhattan summer home, he never actually set foot in it. The below picture came up on a google image search for John Jacob Astor. Not sure what's really going on here, or if that's even him in the picture, but I think it sums up the tale nicely:The second part of her question was: why there are so many seperate towns in Queens? I would hestiate to call them towns, as really Queens is more divided into neighborhoods. However, it does seem to me that the neighborhoods do maintain a greater identity and seperateness than, say, the neighborhoods of Brooklyn. While living in a neighborhood of Brooklyn, my mailing address was always simply "Brooklyn", whereas so long as I've lived in Astoria, my address has included that rather than "Queens." Perhaps there's something to that. And then again, perhaps not. Nevertheless, I appreciate the questions, frenchteacher! May you serve as an example to others, lest I have to come up with my own topics to write about!


  1. I think I lost my comment when I tried to edit it. Please forgive if this shows up twice. Also, please forgive future missspellings (surely that is one) because I won't try to edit again.

    Ok, thanks for the info and cute pix of JJ Astor with donkeys -- which could give rise to many other questions. But you don't want to be just about him.

    I am really really wondering about vegetarian chicken wings mentioned in 1st post. It sounds like such a mash-up of good and bad for you food. What are they like? Why do you eat them? What does the package call them? (I'm thinking something like "imaginatively-shaped, highly processed soy product."

  2. I think they call them "chicken wing style protein." They're pretty good though! I think really anything doused in buffalo sauce is pretty tasty. I'm responding this to you via comments because I don't think it will make a great post (no offense). Also, since you, my one commenter, are jetting out of the country soon, I'll need to go ahead and suck it up and just start writing for me.

    Have a great trip!