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By Elaine Wilson
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, March 2, 2007 - A handful of wounded warriors recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center here are getting a taste of home -- minus the neck-wrenching skyscrapers and taxi-filled city streets.
The servicemembers, all New York natives, are the lucky recipients of a week's worth of the Big Apple's best delicacies, thanks to the generosity of a handful of the city's top restaurants, delicatessens, fine food stores and bakeries.
The first shipment from Zabar's arrived Feb. 23, to the culinary delight of Marine Sgt. Rocky Ramirez, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y.
"I'm going to get all the New Yorkers here together for a banquet," he said, as he pulled a bounty of bagels, cookies and fruit from the box.
The Taste of New York project was conceived in late January here at the grand opening of the Army's new rehabilitation center, the Center for the Intrepid. The veterans visited with New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and mentioned how much they missed New York City food.
"Mrs. Quinn asked for a list of food we wanted," said Ramirez, adding that he personally requested rice and beans.
The speaker's office then enlisted the help of a group of New Yorkers, including Tim Zagat; Kathy Wylde, president and CEO of Partnership for New York City; Bill White, president of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund; and the five borough presidents.
"The Intrepid Center is providing these brave New Yorkers with the best possible care; however, the one thing the center can't provide is the feeling of home," Quinn said.
Along with Zabar's, throughout the week the servicemembers will receive tasty treats from Moma's of Corona, Sahadi, Joe's Place, Murray Cheese and Jive Turkey.
"They're trying to get me fat," Ramirez joked, also expressing his gratitude for the tasty gesture. He will be happy to know that his beloved rice and beans are on the way.
(Elaine Wilson is assigned to the Fort Sam Houston Public Information Office.)