By Carla Zanoni
INWOOD — Rachel Figueroa-Levin was frustrated by a Twitter conversation last month that veered from New Year's wishes for Inwood and Washington Heights to gripes about gentrification.
The complaints are often reduced to an "us versus them" duel along Broadway, where west siders are perceived to be wealthier and more diverse than the heavily Dominican east side. But Figueroa-Levin was hungry to get past that.
"How can I unite both sides?" Figueroa-Levin wrote on her blog "The Misadventures of Mrs Levin," before answering her own question. "With the one thing that everyone (no matter how much money they have or what color they are) LOVES. FOOD."
Inspired by an Amish cookbook she once received that featured handwritten recipes, the Inwood Cookbook Project was born with hopes of uniting the varied and vast Upper Manhattan community.
Figueroa-Levin, a 24-year-old Inwood resident who has lived on both sides of Broadway, promptly posted a note on her blog and began asking Northern Manhattan residents (despite the word Inwood in the title, Figueroa-Levin said she will accept submissions from Washington Heights residents, too) to submit their favorite recipes.
So far, she has received: "Kalbi jjim," or Korean beef short ribs; "Sweet-Ass Balls," a yam and marshmallow concoction; "What's in This?" cheesy olive bread; and "Inwood Chicken Soup," which Inwood resident Carli Entin describes as "basic Jewish chicken soup…'Inwooded' up with purple carrots and other veggies from the farmer's market and chicken from La Antillana Meat Warehouse."
Figueroa-Levin said she hopes to feature more recipes on her site or possibly distribute them in a simple printed and stapled cookbook.
And though she has yet to cook any of the recipes herself – she is currently swamped with taking care of her and her husband Mike Levin's newborn baby, Adiella – she hopes to get to work soon.
"My motives are mostly selfish," she joked. "I just want a bunch recipes."
Upper Manhattan residents interested in submitting a recipe can do so by e-mailing Figueroa-Levin.