Saturday, February 23, 2008

Street food longings

Around this time last winter, I wrote a post in Chowhound after a night of sleeplessness, longing for street food. I guess there's something about February that brings out this craving in me. I was reminded of this post, and thought I'd share it with you, with a few additions from my recent cravings. The responses were overwhelming, and satisfyingly international. You realize how cheated we are in New York with mostly "street meat" (terminology courtesy of Jenny) and cardboard "pretzels."


Last night I couldn't sleep thinking about various street foods around the world that are not readily available in this gastro-paradise, New York.

Do you have a street food you long for from your homeland or your travels? Here are some of mine:

1) In Korea there are numerous street vendors who set up shop on the streets, with just a picnic table and a tarp for protection. My favorite thing to get is duk-bok-kee, a dense, sticky, chewy rice cake (comes in thick and thin - I lean towards the thick) in a red-hot sauce. They also serve a brothy fish cake soup, with the fish cake on small skewers. What a combo!

As I recall, these street vendors are around all year. In the summer, you eat the spicy rice cakes sweating from the heat of the sun and the food. In the winter, the warming sensation of the foods contrast so nicely with the chilly air.

2) Bratwurst in Germany. Most meat stores have small openings out into the street. They'll grill a bratwurst, place it on a crusty white roll, and you gobble it up on the street with some good mustard. Some places also serve currywursts - wursts chopped into thick slices, sprinkled with curry powder and ketchup. Something about eating these on the street made them taste so much superior.

3) Warm goffre. A sticky belgian walffle I had off a cart in Paris one cold winter day. I was a poor student and this was the treat of my life!

4) Hot dog stands in Vancouver. They were made with 100% beef or vegetarian, and came with a great variety of condiments.

5) Gelato gelato gelato! Italy and Germany's got them everywhere. Why don't we???

6) Korean "boong-uh-bbang" or "pool-bbang," made of a thin pancake batter poured into a cast-iron "fish" mold, like a waffle. A dollop of red bean paste sits in the center. The best are light and crispy on the outside, hot and chewy on the inside.

7) "Hoat-dduk," a flattened sweet dumpling filled with brown sugar and pine nuts. It's grilled on a skillet with something heavy over it (like a panini) so it becomes golden crispy on either side. The sugar melts to extra-hot and squirts out, so you have to be extra careful when eating them. I always bite into them too fast and burn my mouth. I will never learn.

8) That reminds me of the very first and the very best "panini" I ever had. In Paris, there was a Greek shop near my language school. The owner set up a panini station right outside the shop, and I think he made only one kind of panini - chicken with some delicious green sauce. It may have been pesto. I don't remember much else that was in it. It was the mystery green sauce and the amazing bread that got me hooked. If I ever go back to Paris, this is the first meal I will have.

What are your favorites street foods?


Anonymous said...

My favorite street foods? (not in any order)

1.The crepe man in Paris, located near the Eiffel Tower
2. The Falafel men on 6th Ave near 55th street
3. The "chicken" guy in front of the pet store on Union Square (what is the white sauce?)
4. The Belgian waffles place across from the Grand'Place in Brussels
5. The tripe stew lady on grand street in china town


Anonymous said...

i second the tripe stew lady on grand st!

or the chowfun noodles with peanut sauce lady on bowery/grand. gotta respect the $1 dinner!

Undercover Cook said...

Crepes in Paris were tasty!

I know where we should go for our next meal together... :)

Anonymous said...

I forgot about the chowfun noodle lady on grand and bowery. YUM! AND you can't beat the price.