Meet Marie, tour guide on our Original Greenwich Village Tour. Take a trip with her down NYC memory lane and follow her lead for the perfect New York City day.
How did you get started with Foods of New York Tours?
I call it a “happy accident”; years ago my friend begged me to go to a party, and I did not like the person who was throwing it, but I said I would go for an hour. While I was at the party I met a woman named Zora, who worked part time for Foods of New York at the time. We struck up a conversation and each had a lot of stories about New York, both being long time New Yorkers, and she said “a friend of mine needs tour guides and I think you would be really good.” The rest is history. I used to live in the neighborhood so you could call it kismet.
What is your favorite NYC neighborhood?
That’s a hard one because after being here for about 30 years now, so many different areas represent different parts of my lifetime here, a lot of nostalgia, a lot of bittersweet memories too. But, I might say Little Italy, I have dear friends who live on the Lower East Side which is just a hop skip and a jump from there and another good friend of mine who lives on Mott Street. I am often at FiatCafé for breakfast and a lot of the locals from that neighborhood are there. Also one of my favorite movies is Pope of Greenwich Village and the closing shot is done right on Spring Street and that is the New York that I remember.
What’s one place that everyone, New Yorker and tourist alike, has to go to?
For me a perfect New York day is spent with my friend Ben visiting different art galleries. Sometimes we’re in Chelsea to see what the new artists are coming up with, and other days we pick a museum and a lot of the museums are near Central Park. Ben is a long time New Yorker like me and sometimes when you feel like “Ugh, I can’t take it anymore” you need to reconnect with what makes New York so amazing. One day we went to The Met and then to The Boathouse for lunch where so many classic films have been filmed. Inside is a café where you can get soups and salads for under $10, we ate there then took a walk in the park and the splendor of being right in the middle of it, you see a bit of the Dakota which is a famous building peeking over the trees and we just stood there in the middle of this big field and we were like “we live in the most beautiful city in the world!” It’s things like that, to me that’s classic.
Are you a savory person or a sweet person?
I like both! I like food, period. I have gotten off of sweets. I had to train myself, they sit on the hips. But look at these pastries next to us (gestures at Rocco’s pastry case) I want to eat every single one of them. But, I think I’m more of a savory person.
Do you cook? Or are you a consumer of food?
(Laughs…) that’s an embarrassing question, especially for a culinary tour guide, I hate cooking… I’m too impatient. I tell people in order to be a good cook you need not only the passion, but also patience, artistry and chemistry, which I don’t when it comes to cooking. So no, I’m not a cook. My mother was, she came from the south and her specialty was French Southern because that was our lineage. We entertained a lot when I was growing up and my mother would take three days to prepare and sometimes I helped her, but I was lazy. I was more concerned with playing. When you’re here in New York you have so much at your disposal to eat. I have learned how to eat since becoming a food tour guide. I’ve actually lost about 40 pounds since starting this job. When you learn the finest in what you’re eating it’s no longer Kraft macaroni and cheese. Although I must confess I still sometimes like the Kraft macaroni and cheese.
What’s something that your tour guests might not know about you?
Oh dear…there are some adventures I couldn’t share, but they may make a good movie.
What do you think differentiates Foods of New York Tours from other tours?
The people who take our tours love us. It’s about connection and being genuine and making people feel like they are a part of our experience. By the time we say goodbye, you feel like you’re fulfilled. Anybody can go out there and go “there’s this and that” and “here, eat this,” but they don’t do it with the same finesse. Eddie Faicco (of Faicco’s Italian Specialties) once said to me about Todd (owner of Foods of New York Tours) that when Todd first started this company he sat down and asked about his family, about who he was, about the shop’s history. He really cared. Eddie said nobody else does that. There is a genuine quality that goes a long way.