When In Rome . . . Eating Like The Locals

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Street food is always going to be a reflection of a city’s true culture. Not only does it give you a glimpse into a local’s diet, but the vendors offer an amazing ambience as well, even the crusty ones. For example, Torontonians and New Yorkers thrive on “street meat” — in Toronto it has been our only street food option for many years due to ridiculous municipal “sanitation” regulations (at least New York has honey-roasted peanuts). Nevertheless, both cities share street meat as one of the most popular eats whether it is midday or post-bar because: 1) the sausages are massive, 2) the vendors are everywhere, and 3) they are so cheap!

Whether it is a skewer of grilled chicken hearts or bowls of chick pea soup, everyone is intrigued and willing to try street food, no matter where they are. So, an article on WorldHum put together the top eight places to get street food and I was not surprised to see which cities made the list. The most obvious winners — like Mexico City and Marrakech — are internationally known as urban hubs of nibble and spice. Some of the cities garnerred a spot on the list because of the ambience of the market and/or the variety of options. Whatever the reason, I wore a bib whilst reading the article. The food that stood out the most to me (that I haven’t already tried):

1) simit – Turkish donut rolled around in sesame seeds found in Istanbul, usually eaten for breakfast with a thick cup of Turkish coffee.

2) harira soup – A Marrakech mixture of chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and tumeric. Everything that is great and good in the world of food.

3) seafood orgy – In Stone Town, Zanzibar, they have all-the-seafood-you-can-eat options. This means higher quality and fresher fish as opposed to the typical “all-you-can-eats” found in North America, which I’m pretty sure are on a rapid decline.

To be honest, I think every city holds a special place on the “street food list,” even if the quality cannot compare to fresh octupus in Palermo, Italy. There is something so comforting about snacking on tacos al pastor on a corner with locals in Mexico City. There is something so exhilirating buying an empanada de carne from a guy on a bike with an overly large front-basket in Buenos Aires. Not to mention, it also supports the local vendors.

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