Talking SCHOP! The last time…

KYSHA HARRIS Food Editor, @SCHOPgirl | 5/14/2020, midnight
First responders, essential workers, city employees. Thank you. You are our heroes.
La Chula tacos: clockwise, shrimp, vegetable, chicken Kysha Harris photo

First responders, essential workers, city employees. Thank you. You are our heroes.

With word from Governor Cuomo that New York State will gradually be reopening tomorrow for certain low-risk industries and businesses where social distance and worker safety can be maintained, I began to reminisce about life before this virus descended upon us. It all seems like a lifetime ago.

I began to rifle through my photos on my phone. When was the last time I felt cute and pulled together? Who was the last person with whom I physically hung out? When was the last time I dined in a restaurant?

With a few aggressive flicks of my fingers, I uncovered the answers to my questions. March 10, 2020. That was the day my colleagues and I decided to go have a bite after attending a community board meeting to announce the postponement of Harlem EatUp! 2020 before, what would become, the worldwide pandemic.

Dawn, Raymond and I decided we would go to La Chula (@nyclachula, 137 East 116th Street, 646-590-3975, www.lachulanyc.com) for some of chef-owner Julian Medina’s Mexico City-style tacos. I was the newbie to La Chula, but recounted great taco memories of the former occupant, El Aguila.

From the moment we walked up to the modern façade and walked through the bright blue shed, I knew we were in for a good time. Minus the new décor, the space was still laid out the same as before, but hipper and more today.

We settled down in the back and did not waste time. Dawn and I were there for some “taco time.” She got three of their especiale spicy garlic shrimp with cotija, pico de gallo, chipotle crema and slaw. I got one of those and spread the love to the simple yet tasty grilled chicken topped with onions, cilantro, salsa morita and salsa verde and, my fave of the lot, hongos y calabacita, the vegetarian option with mushrooms, zucchini, corn, kale and queso fresco.

Raymond did not play, getting himself a margarita to start and the most crave-able nachos of housemade tortilla chips topped with chorizo, black beans, cotija, pickled jalapenos, guacamole, pico de gallo and crema. While he said he was done half way through, the other half magically disappeared…

We ended the night at Raymond’s watching an episode of “Hot Ones The Game Show,” the show I worked on as the culinary producer last year, while we ate store-bought pound cake and talked “poo-poo” (you know what I mean). I walked home with a smile on my face. Only in Harlem…

We are going to get to the other side of this crisis. It might not be the same life as before, but it is yours to live (verb). Reflect on times like this night I have shared and look forward to more.

Stay safe, wear a mask, eat well, and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!