I’ve seen a lot of Europe, the Middle-east, and the now disorganized polities of the former USSR, some as a busker in younger days, lately accompany my wife Ingrid, the Estate Buyer, on her travels on behalf of the Estate.
So I’ve eaten a lot of street food which has only violently disagreed with me once. and I freely admit that might have been the arrack, an alcoholic beverage distiller from the hearts of palm trees, that had drunk copiously the night in the Hill District of Sri Lanka. (Ingrid was ill as well.) so I can’t say the curried chicken in a banana wrapper that did it.
(Curry there is not really curry — it’s just blindly hot chilis in the rice. You can even get an outstanding hamburger, with chilis naturally, in several eateries in Columbo, the Sri Lankan capital. I’d recommend the hotel we stayed there on a tea buying trip but it got bombed by the Tamil side of the long civil war that sort of just ended. A damn pity as they served a most excellent all you could eat breakfast buffet that a British Army officer would have recognized and wholeheartedly eaten!)
So I was thrilled when this came into the Estate mailroom some years back even if it took a while for me to review it. With a subtitle of ‘where to find it & how to make it’, it certainly caught my interest.
There are no writers credited despite the claim in the front matter that the writers are listed on page 222 , so I’ll skip that usual riff. What we have is two sections Savoury and Sweet with the former having a roughly three to one advantage over the latter. I awl ways avoided the latter in most countries as sweet doesn’t begin to describe the awful overloaded sugar content of most of these foods. Drink the local Coca Cola instead if you want something sweet.
I spotted balik, a tasty fish sandwich from Turkey which I always get when there (all Turkish street is good and safe, a somewhat rare occurrence), burek which is a stuffed with meat or spinach onion, cheese, and herbs found in both Bosnia and Hercegovina, chole batura which is spicy chick peas in puffed up fried bread found in Dehli, and that reliable winter treat found all over Europe, chestnuts roasted where you buy them in a paper bag. Manys the time I’ve warmed up my hands when busking in the winter somewhere in Europe by holding these in my hands for a few minutes before eating their savoury goodness!
Ok, I was too harsh on sweet food earlier as I’ve had great treats, mostly in Europe, the Middle-East, and the polities of the former USSR. The best baklava is wherever you are when find it. Trust me — it’s always good. Blinies, a thin pancake with yummy fillings found on Russian streets are yummy, churros, a sugar cover deep-fried pastry found in Spain is used for dipping in hot chocolate, but my all time favourite is alas not here — skoning, grilled hearing on rye bread with mustard sauce, raw onion, and fresh dill. Ymmm!
Overall The World’s Best Street Food is an excellent full of yummy food, great recipes ( I’m not a cook by a long stretch so I cannot say how good they are, but I’ll report back later as the Estate Kitchen now had it and I’m sure they’ll test out many of these recipes.) The writing style is consistent over the many sections, a neat trick with multiple writers which I’ll attribute to superb editing, and the photos are most mouth watering. Highly recommended.
(Lonely Planet, 2012)