Hello and welcome…

…to what will surely be the greatest blog ever made, or at least that’s what the talking pig in my dream promised. This blog has been a step toward something I’ve wanted for a long time – a place to rant and talk about myself, but more importantly, about where I am from. I’m a Jersey boy, which is my answer if you ask me where I’m from (technically, I was born in Ecuador but raised there until I was a year old, so my experience there is limited – we’ll get to that later).

To say I know NJ would be an understatement – not just the town I’m from, which is Port Reading, but also the many places in this state where I’ve lived and worked. I have seen the best and worst that this state and our neighbor, NYC, have to offer, and regardless of my experiences, good or very bad, I love it! Every inch of it – the Palisade cliffs, the shores in Asbury, even the farmlands of South Jersey. Such a small state has constantly changed and transformed in such a short time.

For example, I can recall my parents’ business in Union City always under surveillance because the town we lived in during the ’90s was incredibly corrupt. Today, that area is filled with high-end condos and skyrocketing rent, similar to Hoboken and Jersey City (yes, these towns weren’t just hipster paradises and expensive restaurants always). To live here is to learn to be the neglected and overlooked sibling, always compared to our neighbor Manhattan, and who can live up to that? But today it seems like New Yorkers and others alike see what we, or at least I, have known for a while – it’s pretty amazing here, like NYC but without the tourists. The only thing that makes us different is the river that divides us.

NJ is and has been the last frontier for what a nostalgic NYC was – heavy with its Irish and Italian influence, a still-no-nonsense place where red sauce is king, and attitude comes free with your order. Depending on where you are, the “Sopranos-style” attitude still shows here, and even deeper if you know where to go. This is changing, for better or worse. It’s a force that was always aimed at us and now seems a bit overwhelming. I can say how I miss the good old days, but truth is, without change, you never grow.

So, without further ado, I say welcome to The Tasty Trotter – a blog about this state and me. What I would consider the most honest insight into the past and present of a state that is changing, and my take on how to call out the bad and the ugly while celebrating the beauty and nuance of a place made famous by gangsters, Frank Sinatra, and an HBO show that, if I have to say its name, then you probably don’t get internet under that rock you live under.

Christian Morales

Chef & Food Enthusiast