STREET FOOD FOR A FIVER
Sam Walters dips into the cultural melting pot…
Not so long ago eating on the street was deemed the height of savagery. Now the tables have turned (…what tables?) and strolling along clutching loosely bound treats from around the world and dribbling their exotic juices is the very definition of culture. What follows is the product of a very trying week spent sampling street food from London’s various markets; all so that when you do sacrifice your dignity, dear readers, it shall not be in vain.
Falafel has to be here somewhere as it’s practically the archetypal street food. It led the mashed chickpea invasion of these shores and paved the way for the perplexing array of humous that we now face. Portobello market has a stall called “Happy Vegetarian” that not only serves these beloved gems of the Middle East, but wraps them in a warm, toasted flatbread; contrasts them with crunchy salad and sets them off with a hot, spicy sauce. Okay so it’s nothing new, but they do treat this classic with the respect it deserves and throw in service with a smile for the very reasonable price of £3.
Now, at the centre of Camden Market’s maze of cheap t-shirts and greasy take-away stands hides the food court on West Yard. The red and green stall flying two enormous Flags of Peru beckons the weary traveller. A Peruvian feast of grilled tender chicken, sweet tasting grilled baby potatoes, and soft, smoky aubergine is balanced on a bed of mushroom rice. This is finally topped with slightly caramelised onions, crunchy sugar-snap peas and a tongue-tingling chilli sauce. It comes in at £6 but ask nicely and you get it for the above advertised fiver.
Back down south a little, beyond the enormous cauldrons of tempting Thai curry in Borough Market, is “The Guildable Manor”. This stall’s Gourmet Game Baguette is a hunk of French bread crammed full of venison and wild boar with red wine and fresh apricots. Equip yourself with a wad of napkins, take a seat by Southwark Cathedral, tilt your head sideways to accommodate the ungainly sandwich; and if all has gone to plan you’ll find that the bread is fresh, the game is strong and the salad is crunchy… what more could you ask of £4.80?
Finally, on “Eat. St.” of King’s Boulevard (just behind King’s Cross station), a budget-stretching £6 will buy a trio of tacos from the “Traditional Mexican Food” stall. The sweet little selection is filled with: pork marinated in orange juice and spices, chicken and cactus in a tomatillo sauce; and chicken and chorizo, then dolloped with an inky black, bean sauce. All are exciting flavours, but in particular the pork is very juicy (must be the orange juice), and the cactus is novel, if rather bitter.
So we see that the cultural melting pot that is our fine capital earns its title in more ways than one, and here the guide ends and the mess must surely follow…
I Love Good Beer Mag - Dec 2013