Global Street Food
We travel to eat. We’re long-time believers that the sauce stains on our t-shirts tell more than any stamp in our passports. But the joy of foreign food is fleeting. These feasts are resolutely immovable. You try bringing that unlabeled bottle of fish sauce back through customs — not to mention the smells and sounds of the Bangkok night market where you first had it, hunched over some charred and nameless griddle amid the sweaty din. Life changing meals exist in and of their place, all the more profound for the pilgrimages they require. And thus the tragedy of travel. Ever hungry, we must continue seeking. So we won’t dare claim this month’s crate is a substitute, a trip in a box, but rather think of it as inspiration, a postcard from a friend, a chanced-upon guidebook, a tempting smell from that alleyway down the block. Let it lead you onward — and be sure to pack some napkins.
Chickpea Crumbs // Watusee Foods // Washington, D.C.
Invented to sate a peckish med student on his all-night rounds, these home-roasted peas — a welcome respite from vending-machine fare — went, er, viral through the staff, and turned into a business. His discovery is common knowledge on the streets of India, where handfuls of the protein-packed snack keep the cabbies weaving and cowherds tramping. But the real innovation came when he crushed the peas into panko-like bread crumbs, bringing fiber and protein instead of heartless crunch to crusted meats and veggies. Sprinkle it on pound pork chops, pounded thin and dredged in flour and egg, then fry on skillet, three minutes per side — and get back to work!
Smokin Padrón Jam // Friend in Cheeses Jam Co. // Santa Cruz, CA
Capture the sultry, smoky heat of late-summer grill outs with a jam that goes where others don’t. Friend in Cheeses was founded to bring sweet spreads out of the candy aisle (all that sugar!) and into a place of pantry prominence, and their Smokin’ Padrón is indeed as versatile as any condiment, with just the right mix of heat and sweet, and a wisp of earthy smoke. PB+J? Sure. Charcuterie? Of course. And cheese? Well — naturally. A friend to all, it’ll be the secret sauce of any grill-worthy sandwich, keeping your party grooving and guests guessing at the miraculous mix of flavors. Whether you spread the gospel is up to you.
Tomato Achaar // Brooklyn Delhi // Brooklyn, NY
What hot sauce is to southern tables or mayo to the midwest, achaar is to India. Hindi for pickled, the pantry staple of the sub-continent is a sweet-spicy-tart-aromatic mix of veggies and fruits, spices and chili peppers. It’s ubiquitous there, but rare here, and Brooklyn Delhi’s founder had to stock her home kitchen with a suitcase full of street-swiped jars jars gleaned on trips back home to India — until she made her own. Swimming with savory roasted tomatoes and sparkling sweet tamarind, it’s the perfect compliment to a traditional lamb pita: quickly char a slab of rump roast, slice it thin, and pile on grill-warmed bread with a scoop of yogurt and sprinkle of parsley.
Mini Stroopwafels // Belgian Boys // Farmingdale, NY
New York knows its coffee, but what about the coffee break? Bagels and bialys satisfy stomachs, sure — but the sweet tooth? Take a tip from these born-and-bred Belgians, who missed their country’s sweets, wishing their adopted Big Apple home were caramel-dipped. They made their own — the classic stroopwafel — and nothing says coffee time like these crunchy, chewy, caramel-filled (and corn-syrup-free) snacks. Eat it like a local — balance on a mug rim to soften in the steam, or make a wafel-gato with a scoop of ice cream and drizzle of espresso.
Banana Salt Water Taffy // Salty Road // Brooklyn, NY
Streets aren’t always paved, and the best grab-and-go food is often where the asphalt ends. We’re talking gravel lots, dirt alleys, and, of course, boardwalks. But as much of a beach side staple as salt water taffy is, when Salty Road’s founders set up their shack on Rockaway Beach, theirs was the only game in town. In fact, the only traditional taffy makers in the whole city. And if that weren’t unique enough, their charming chews use all natural ingredients, like real vanilla beans, real fruit, and large-grain sea salt that gives the candy a sprightly, satisfying crunch.
Turkey Bak Kwa // Little Red Dot // Sunnyvale, CA
If there’s a universal language of food, “cured meat” is Vocab 101, commonly understood — and proudly, traditionally enjoyed — in every culture near and far. But this translation has a twist. Bak Kwa isn’t the sound of a gobbling turkey, but a kind of Southeast Asian street snack. These umami-packed meat morsels are quickly roasted, instead of slowly air cured, like most. Air dried jerkies — emphasis on dry — leave you chewing, and chewing, and chewing, long after their fleeting flavor fades. Softer, bolder, and bursting with juice, this one is extra savory with the addition of old-world fish sauce and a deep blend of spices. Learn the local lingo, and don’t worry about talking with your mouth full.
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Originally published at https://mantry.com.