Thoughts on Street Food
Whenever I travel, I try to sample the iconic foods of the city I'm visiting. I’ve eaten cheesesteaks in Philly (one provy wit), enjoyed savoury crêpes in the 6th in Paris, snacked on currywurst in Berlin, had too many gelatos in Rome and consumed poutine topped with smoked meat in Montreal (a really bad idea after a night of drinking and before a 3-hour bus ride). I remember when I visited Istanbul I made a commitment to eat at least one dürüm döner a day. It was fabulous. At the end of my trip, in addition to a few unwanted pounds, I could discern the subtle differences in the taste of the meat, the types of seasoning, the softness of pita, and the sauces. I think a city's food informs you about a city's people, their way of life.
Trinidad is, of course, itself home to many fabulous street foods - roti cooked on the pavement in St. James, doubles in Curepe, corn soup, and chicken foot souse around the Savannah. Our foods tell of our rich ethnic backgrounds and offer a glimpse at our dark colonial past.
I am in Boston walking through the famous Faneuil Hall and I'm in search of my first clam chowder. Several of the vendors here offer this most Bostonian of foods so I pick the place with the longest line. The Hall is hot and humid and crowded with visitors so with chowder in hand I head out to Columbus Park and find a shady tree. I am not disappointed. The chowder is thick and rich and creamy. There is a clean freshness that you don’t get when you usually eat your chowder from a can. The seasoning is well balanced. There is also an abundance of potato and clams which settle at the bottom of the bowl forming a motherlode of yummy goodness to the very end. There are no sandy gritty bits that I have experienced with other clam chowders. In short, it's fabulous.
As I bask in the afterglow, I wonder, did this chowder do Boston proud? For certain, there are more sophisticated and complex chowders at “real” restaurants. Can I say without a doubt that I have tasted real Boston clam chowder? Will this chowder now set the standard for all other chowders to come? Am I doomed to be disappointed when next I order clam chowder in Trinidad? Will a hot bowl of Campbell’s clam chowder on a rainy Saturday afternoon cease to be a treat?
The weather has changed suddenly and dark clouds are forming overhead. As I vacate my spot in the park, I wonder, who's clam chowder will I try next?
4th August 2015