Archive for the ‘STREET FOOD’ Category

Street food in Brasilia, round 1:

Monday, December 6th, 2010

I had a fun experience ordering some stuff on the street this week. The total of this ran to about $4.50R ($3), indicating just how different prices are here than in Caracas for street food. But everybody tells me this is the most expensive city in Brazil, so I hope that part will be better in Rio.

i had Coxinha, which is a fried chicken croquette, shaped like a chicken thigh. The names of things aren’t listed so it’s kind of hard to figure out what things are. Also the prices aren’t listed so It’s possible I’m paying gringo prices when I point and order. Nonetheless this was a good, but brief lunch.


Here is the whole shebang, with agua de coca right out of the source:

You can bet there was picante nearby. I drenched this thing in it.

Later in the day I had a Caldo de Cana, which is straight sugar cane juice. This stuff is pretty dangerous, even if it is in its unrefined form. There is a saying about how this is the only thing the government guarantees for people in the poorer Northeast, and it’s based in just how much energy this drink offers. Also, it runs about $1R (75¢), so it’s accessible for a quick-pick-me-up.

Caldo de cana comes straight from sugar cane that is refrigerated. It takes about 2-3 minutes to make, in a masher that looks like this:

The juice is visible in the blue thing near the rear of the machine. That thing is straining out all the solids so that the maker of the beverage can pour a pitcher of the stuff into your cup.

Then you drink it, and it’s so good. And then you get diabetes. But it really is so good that you don’t even worry about whether you might have just slipped into diabetic shock. And you feel good, which is why the saying involves the government’s goal of pacifying poorer parts of the population with caldo de cana.

International Travel Fail, or Porque Estoy Burro

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

I missed my flight out of town and showed up a day late to the Simon Bolivar International Airport at Maiquetia. Thank goodness my cab driver didn’t have a 50 Bs. F on him to make change for my 150 Bs. F trip. I wouldn’t want him to have suffered for getting up so early.

As it turns out my flight out of town (my ticket anyway) was for Monday. There was some miscommunication between me and the travel agent, and I never confirmed that the dates were the ones I needed. I showed up at 5am at the airport today to make my flight.

I became really confused because a flight of the same number leaves Caracas at noon on Tuesday. However, I waited seven hours and paid an extra $50 to make it onto the Tuesday flight. Because the flight from Curacao to St. Maarten (a stop on the way to St Barth, where I’m going) leaves at 9am every day. So I flew here and am waiting in a Dutch paradise for my flight to another Dutch paradise.

It has taken just shy of a couple hundred dollars and an overnight stay in Curacao to fix this problem, but it’s almost corrected. Believe it or not, this is what I thought I’d have to do to get to St Barth’s before I discovered this mythical flight I should have boarded.

Here is why they call it Blue Curacao:

Here is the oil refinery:

I landed here.

I headed through immigration. They said, “don’t you have a place to stay?”

I said “no, this was an emergency. I will find one as soon as you let me through. I couldn’t call before I left.”

They said “you’re not allowed to do that here, but we’ll let you slide,” and I said, “Believe me i don’t want to sleep in the street.”

Look at all these people who have hotels. Good for them.

Anyway I ended up at a Hilton because I liked the pictures of the waterfront, and I was really worried about a non-chain not taking a reservation I made with the free airport wi-fi minutes before arriving in a taxi.

Here in Curacao I don’t think the sand beaches are natural, but i wanted to go to one, so I did, and that is why I’m staying here.

There is also a restored fort on the property:

I asked the front desk what kind of food they thought was good and cheap, and here, they asked: “do you want something that is expensive and good or do you want something of lower quality that is cheap”

There isn’t cheap and good on this island?

So I walked on the beach/ rocks past the Hilton, then past the other Hilton, found this and chilled out a bit:

Then went past the Marriott, both very fancy places!

I was kind of walking aimlessly, until I found what used to be a trailer:

It had a grate in what used to be the window. Through the grate was a kitchen (in the van) Two people were hanging out on the other side of the trailer. I walked up to them and said “whatever you are cooking, I will eat.”

The thing about that was, they were talking amongst themselves in some sort of Dutch-Spanish combo language I later found out is called Papamientu. I had no idea how I was going to get across to them that I wanted whatever came out of that former van. I tried Spanish. That didn’t work.

I tried English. We agreed on the word “food.”

I had $6 on me (I had to count to make sure I could cover this), and they only wanted $5. Then they told me they’d give me chicken saté and batatas. While I waited, I was invited to take a seat. I photographed some friends who thought I’d feed them, and the inside of the van.

I followed rules #1 and #2 to great success. All the sauces they offered made their way to the plate. In addition to the fry toppings, there was a delicious peanut sauce waiting for that well-seasoned chicken. There was also a salad of white onion and tomato covered with lemon pepper.

It was really good. I sat on a public beach under a palm frond-covered picnic table and ate my cheap and good food. Here were the boats that I saw in the Sea:

Here is a shot from the walk back:

I then hung out and watched the sunset:

Dare I complain? It would have been nice to be hanging out with my folks. Here are a few night photos of Willemstad, Curacao:

Here is the other side of the inlet. Crossing the inlet is the Queen Emma Bridge, which is a pedestrian bridge that pivots across the inlet when a big boat needs to go to the refinery. The one side of the bridge has an engine with a propeller and it literally pulls the bridge (the bridge is pivoting against the other shoreline) out of the inlet and to shore.


This reminded me of Leidzeplein in Amsterdam:

The above street/park food above was better than what I had for dinner, but I did get to have a Leffe Brown, and man did it taste good. I left those plantains on the plate.

Real Beer!

Street Food at a Weekend Market

Monday, November 15th, 2010

I had some street food at a market this weekend. It was great, and almost bordered on overwhelming. I finally got the chance to try two traditional dishes that people had been urging me to get to: the hallaca and the cachapa de Carabobo. Where as the last few street food experiences were rapid in nature, these were more slow-foods experiences.

I had a hallaca de chicharron, which was a tamale with pork skin, which was great. Super tender. This was a mini-serving, and appropriately called (in the diminuitive) ahallaquita. The corn masa was delicious, well seasoned and containing a little bit of peppers.

Apologies for the letdown of a photo. I forgot my camera.

My host, her niece and her great nephew led me to the cachapa stand, which had a serious line. Serious lines signify good food, so I was stoked. The cachapa de Carabobo is a product of the state of Carabobo here in Venezuela. Its diffusion over the state is a tribute to the availability of corn here as a staple. It’s a corn pancake, which is a little sweet. It combines ground corn flour and pureed corn kernels. It is fried on a griddle, served with a healthy helping of butter and an overwhelming helping of a sour cheese. Here is a shot of the cachapa, forgive the few bites I already took:

There was so much cheese I couldn’t finish it but I nearly got all the way through the pancake after eating the hallaquita. I had to put it aside. The flavors were great though. I can’t wait to make these when I get home. They had better corn flavor than your traditional johnny cake. They’ve got great potential as a breakfast staple at home. So good with just a little butter!

Street Food, Round 2

Friday, November 12th, 2010

I got some more street food last night. Pan con carne. I loved it. It was tender, well-done beef, heated up quickly and sliced thinly. Looked like sirloin.

20 bolivares fuertes ($2.50 with the black market exchange rate). Served on a soft baguette with lettuce and tomato. I asked the guy who made it what his favorite sauce was. His response – avocado sauce, which I’m allergic to – prompted me to ask for his second favorite sauce. That was some tangy mayo sauce that looked like thousand island.

This thing had all the hallmarks of a Philly steak, hold the cheese. I would have been into eating one of the cheeses available and having it get melty on this thing, but this was still a solid sandwich.

Afterward I washed it down with some chicha, which is rice milk with some condensed milk, spices (nutmeg) and sugar.

It’s really delicious. Tastes like rice pudding in a cup, and is slightly thicker than horchata. It was warm, so there’s an ice cube in it. I’m looking for user-submitted suggestions of what booze should go into this, so fire away.