By:Â Saira Malhotra
This weekend, the Wall Street Journal, talked about how a significant number of Americans are selecting vacation destinations based on 2 driving factors: food and wine. In recent years, and some would even argue with the growth of food in media, more and more people expand their horizons culturally and shy away far less from unconventional cuisines. So here we are today, not just embracing new cuisines but on an active quest to seek them out. To cater to these culinary adventurers, there are now vacation packages for people that might be seeking that ‘wine tour of the Dalmation Islands’ or ‘Dutch oven cooking in the Pacific North West'; whatever tickles your fancy, this epicurean intrigue is bringing people to the streets, right in the heart of these native places.
Every country and within that, every region, has its own story to tell. The streets, the altitude, the weather, and the culture are often authentically captured in a destination’s ‘street food’. Unpretentious and casual, served in a banana leaf, newspaper, or on a stick, the food captures the real essence of the heritage and philosophy of a place. Every ‘street’ all over the world has its own unique charm but the striking similarity is the honesty with which it is offered to its customers.
The Wall Street Journal took us on a trip to some popular destination spots and what we could expect to find there in their ‘Culinary Travel’ section of ‘Foreign Flavors’.
Piedmonte, Italy – Walking up and down the hilly region adorned with vineyards and historic buildings, one could expect to meet farmers with endless tables of various artisanal products and delicacies, such as, homemade pesto, white truffles, homemade pasta and olive oil.
Provence, France – Seasonal is what prevails on the streets of Provence with its colorful array of produce, such as cherries, heirloom tomatoes, and artichokes. Of course, the setting would not be complete without the nectar of the gods, such as, the intense Cotes du Rhone.
Cape Town, South Africa – Reflecting a true immersion of cultures, Cape Malay dating back to Dutch Colonial rule, is recognized for its intense flavors from the use of dried and roasted spices. One could expect to stumble upon meats cooked in lentils, spiced rice dishes ‘breyani’ and ground meat cooked in an egg custard.
Istanbul, Turkey – Dishes that reverberate the times of the Ottoman Empire can be found on the streets of Istanbul. Stuffed vegetables known as Dolma, lentils soups ‘lebeniye’, Kurdish pit-roasted lamb and not to mention the artisanal pastries and sweet scents of Turkish delight, are just some of the treasures one would stumble upon.
Goa, India – Sun, sea, and spice is what makes this street food very special. The culture and the food bring together influences from its 4 century old rule by the Portuguese and its geographic amenities. Seafood, coconut, rice, and exorbitant spice are no strangers to this cuisine. People walk around wearing flip-flops and eating plates of roasted meats covered in a spicy and sour sauce known as Vindaloo.
Bangkok, Thailand – As Barbara Noe of the WSJ mentioned, there are 20,000 street vendors selling 213 diverse dishes from street carts, shacks and food stands. The aromatic and very zingy dishes include Phuket Lobster, Thai curries, spicy salads, skewered meats and to cool that palate down, ice creams garnished with corns, beans and rice.
What’s your favorite street food destination?
For more travel stories and ethnic recipes, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)