Of all of the health-motivated culinary trends that have taken New York by storm in the past few years — kale, quinoa, cauliflower, Greek yogurt, maple water, chia and brussels sprouts — easy-to-digest bone broth just might be the least, well, sexy (yes, even less so than brussels sprouts). Granted, that’s probably because we generally associate it with cheerless nursing home dining halls, or more specifically, our husband’s own ulcerative colitis; a GI disease he attempts to keep in check with the dark, collagen-rich fluid.
And indeed, chef Marco Canora’s personal plethora of equally unpleasant ailments, including high cholesterol, prediabetes and even (yikes!) gout, was his original impetus for opening Brodo — a new, massively popular broth-focused takeout window, attached to his critically acclaimed restaurant, Hearth. “I’ve been immersed in health and wellness for years now, following this revived wave of doctors preaching the gospel of functional medicine, and food as a way to heal all that ails you,” Canora says. “And I came across broth time and again, which has already been an integral part of my cooking for as long as I can remember. So it triggered the idea that (in addition to sipping it regularly myself), I should sell broth in coffee cups out of this unused space in my restaurant, and essentially create a brand new category of hot, healing beverage.”
That being said, Canora’s mission isn’t merely to dispense liquid medicine to malnourished, sickly passerby in the East Village. A talented chef first and foremost, he hopes to drive home the idea that the terms “good tasting” and “good for you” needn’t be mutually exclusive, supplementing his long-simmered elixirs with organic chicken, grass-fed beef, and optional add-ins such as ginger juice, Calabrian chili oil, and shiitake mushroom “tea,” that are every bit as scrumptious as they are nutritionally sound. “I’m happy to bring broth to the forefront, because I think it’s a superfood that nobody talks about, but exemplifies the notion that healthy fare can also be delicious and enjoyable,” insists Canora.
Of course, not all broths are created equal. So if you’re anxious to add the trending beverage your daily diet regimen, but can’t always make it to Brodo (or don’t relish the idea of boiling up animal carcasses at home), it’s important to know what to look for when it comes to store-bought stock. “Rather than getting easily distracted by marketing claims and labels such as "all natural", it is best to just go straight to the ingredient list,” recommends Culinary Nutritionist Kristy Del Coro. “If you see ingredients that are comparable to what you would use at home (i.e. water, chicken, carrots, celery, onions, herbs, etc.) then you are on the right track. If you start to see things like dextrose, MSG, hydrolyzed proteins, mono and diglycerides or any artificial flavors, you are looking at a more highly processed, less natural and less nutrient-dense product.”
Considering the spotlight Canora has effectively shined on broth, don’t be surprised if you end up battling other shoppers for top-quality brands in the grocery store, or notice a sudden glut of stock purveyors popping up all over town. “I’m sure there will be followers. There’s a big push towards health and caring about what you eat, which is awesome and I’m really happy to be a part of that,” Canora says. “But I also think it’s too bad that everyone wants to find some sort of silver bullet — like if I just drink green juice it’s going to clear my acne — and there’s no such thing when it comes to health and nutrition. There’s so much bad information out there, including the idea that you have to make sacrifices in terms of flavor and satisfaction if you want to be healthy.”
“I think that these cups of broth perfectly illustrate what bullshit that is, and that’s part of the success of Brodo,” he continues. “When it comes right down to it, people are digging this shit cause its delicious, AND they know that they’re doing right by their bodies.”
Brodo: 200 1st Ave., (646) 602-1300