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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Street Cuisine

One of the great joys of living in the city is the street life - this offers the type of experiences virtually nonexistent outside, such as sidewalk dining. The are over 10,000 food vendors in NYC selling from street carts. Most vendor's fare is quite ordinary - pretzels, hot dogs, ice cream and/or beverages. But there are those vendors that rise above the pedestrian and make really excellent food - many feel that some of the best, authentic cuisine can be had on the streets from these vendors, some of whom have achieved near celebrity status and are known throughout the city with individuals making trips to sample their food. In fact, street food now has its own culinary prize: The Vendy Award. This annual award is a fundraiser sponsored by the Street Vendor Project - it takes place in the courtyard of St. Mark's Church in the Bowery in September of each year. Visit the website where you can read about their goals/efforts and the award with past winners. One of the finalists for 2006 was Sri Lankan chef, Thiru Kumar who for the last 6 years has run a cart called NY Dosas (seen in the photo) with vegan cuisine, on the south side of Washington Square (he has received many execllent reviews and won numerous food awards apart from the Vendy nomination). His specialty is dosas, a south Indian type of crepe, which he cooks on site. In addition to the dosas he makes uthappam, idly, vada, sambar soup, ponidcherry masala, pattu and many other exotic sounding specialties. On a busy day there have been as many as 60 people waiting in line, many of whom are students from neighboring NYU. I found Thiru to be extremely avuncular - part of his popularity is the feeling he is taking you under his wing, making suggestions and helping those unfamiliar with his food decide what to order. He is open M-F and occasionally on Saturday. Thiru even gives out a card with his cell number and email for those wanting to check his schedule ...

8 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

I like your photographs. I like your stories about your photographs. That makes you blog unusual. Sometimes people will show a photograph of something they know so well because they see it every day in their country. When I look at it I have no idea what it is. I look to their title or to their accompanying text but sometimes they don't say what it is. Your photographs and commentary match and explain things even I can understand and appreciate. Thanks for that.

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Anonymous said...

Hey, Brian:

Another great narrative to another great photo!! One of the many things I like about your website is that what you write truly paints a picture, and you even at times challenge one to keep their dictionary nearby (i.e. "avuncular")....so it's an educational experience as well!!
Cheers!!...Keep up the good work.

Brian said...

abraham & anonymous - I'm glad you appreciate the effort. A lot of research time, reading writing and rewriting goes into these posts. The process is very educational for me too. And I do take into account that many visitors to this site do not live in NYC, so I try to give as much necessary info as possible in a way that doesn't insult a city resident.
Brian

don said...

great story. That's absolute thejoy to have such a different kind of streetfood. here in Rottterdam it's not streetfood but small toko's or restaurants.
thanks for the story's it is always a joy to read them

Merisi's Vienna For Beginners said...

I can but add "Amen" to Abraham, and this particular photo takes you almost there, so close I can smell the food! I am in awe of the time and care you put into your research.
It's interesting to observe the differences in city lifes, here in Vienna there are very few street carts, the very popular hot dog vendors here sell their wares out of little huts. There would be little space left for carts anyway, since most of the food establishments have at least a couple of tables out on the sidewalks from the beginning of March til late into fall. Even during winter people gather in their winter coats outside around little standing room only tables. Viennese are addicted to outdoor dining and drinking. ;-)

Neorelix said...

Excellent post - many thanks! I'm going to find him on my next trip. Good shot too.

Freudian Slip said...

Yum! That looks so good! I want one :)
Matt

Anonymous said...

I have recently met a man of my life and will be moving to NYC in December. Reading your posts makes me want to go there now so that I can sample and visit amazing places you describe. Great stories, great photos - the best blog on cities I have seen for sure.
Thank you for keeping my dreams alive till December. I will surely need this blog once I actually arrive.
See you then