September 21, 2004

Via Curbed: Gene Callahan's Your Guide to New York City Shops, a user's manual for out-of-towners in search of beer, sundries, cellophaned fig bars, and freezerburned ice cream.

[When is] a shop a "deli" and when is it a "bodega"? I mentioned that one distinguishing characteristic seems to be the borough in which it is located. A second differentia is the ethnicity of the owner. If he or she is Korean, Chinese, or Indian, then you should lean toward calling the place a deli, while Hispanic ownership favors the term bodega. Unfortunately, on rare occasions the owner will not be visible when you enter. For instance, you may encounter a non-immigrant teenager working the register, which, as outlandish as the notion sounds, does happen, since although the owner works 100 or so hours a week, even he needs to sleep sometimes. But even in those circumstances, you still might be able to determine what to call the store you are in, because a bodega is more likely than a deli to offer plantains, yams, chayote, and a shelf full of Goya canned goods.


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