At night, when the weather cools and it’s just dark enough out that you can’t see the cockroaches crawling around – the grills are fired up and the fridges are stocked with skewers of vegetables, meat, and indistiguishable food products. A man or woman, or a couple of them, stand over a hot grill – pouring spice and oil on food and slinging it back onto tables of anxious diners. By far my favorite meal – a welcome relief from rice and noodle heavy dishes served around campus.
After a few too many cocktails – Catherine had our first street food dining experience (note, called street food because “alfresco” is really all too classy a word for what it is). The chicken liver or kidney or whatever organ we had chowed on was spicy and tasty. Still, in the back of my head I kept the faith that perhaps it was all the beers and the fact it was 3 am and I was hungry that made this street food so delectable.
After a sober visit or 12 I can attest that it’s fabulous. C and I have indulged in way too much of it – and I can already tell – when I return to the US – I’ll miss it. It’s one of the few times ordering is a breeze. You pick up a basket (unwashed and still with goo from the last person who used it), walk to the fridge and take out the skewers that you want. You set it by the grill and in less than five minutes theres spicy deliciousness delivered to your table.
Catherine and I managed to wander across a cheap street food vendor, with an anxious server who uses his three words of English with vigour: “hello” “goodbye” “okay”. For 4 skewers of meat and endless skewers of mushrooms, lotus, eggplant, and onions – it sets us back $4.
Children out on walks with their parents stop by our table to smile and try their hand at interacting with the Americans (one boy told us we were beautiful the other night – obviously dining on the street comes with low light – so he couldn’t get a good look at us).
Everyone says to stay away from the street food – but it’s bologna. At least I can see the the “kitchen” and count the cockroaches – which is much more than I can do at any restaurant in America.