Friday, July 31, 2009

Dine al fresco with Tony this week.

Monday's episode of No Reservations is going to be one that's very near and dear to my heart. No he's not in the Marais this week at my favorite haunts....guess again.

Yes, Tony is taking on STREET FOOD this week. I don't know about you, but there's nothing more that I like than stopping at a street stall and grabbing lunch. You can usually find the most authentic foods at these stalls and roadside stands, so I'm excited to see WHICH ones that Tony chooses to take us to.

From local variations on the hot dog to unidentifiable fried meats, from sautéed insects to steaming bowls of noodles, we'll get to see Tony dine on them.

When you think about it, there is no location Tony has visited that DOESN’T have its version of
mystery meat. From NYC’s dirty water dogs, to Mexico’s ‘wet tacos’, to squeaky guts on a stick in Hong Kong, Tony hasn’t met a form of mystery meat that he *doesn’t* enjoy. Well, ok…except for maybe that little episode in Namibia involving a certain warthog… As Tony says, fire has been the center of a meal and the site of discourse since the beginning of time. Fire is also a great way to cook meat! In Jamaica, drum pan chicken is a favorite street food consisting of peppered jerk chicken cooked in large drums over an open flame. In Vietnam, Tony is introduced to bun cha, a succulent combination of roast pork and noodles, prepared on sidewalk grills. The food courts and hawker centers of Asia are another favorite food-based gathering location of Tony’s. In Singapore’s hawker centers, one can find a variety of foods such as the famed chicken rice, boiled shark head, and bone soup. Hong Kong is home to dai pai dongs, large rooms similar to American food courts where groups of friends can gather and enjoy a wide variety of dishes. Or, in Tony’s language, heaven.

One of the most special things about street food is the fact that it’s usually handmade. Dona Anastasia has been making hand-made blue corn tortillas on the streets of Mexico for years. In Hong Kong, there is an elderly man who has been pounding flour and water into exquisite
noodles for generations. The combination of fresh ingredients and the passion for one’s craft make for something truly delicious. Something that isn’t typically delicious is food served on modes of transportation. Have you ever had a ‘yummy’ airplane meal? Tony has managed to seek-out a few exceptions to that rule, like the huge Irish breakfast served to him on the countryside train ride to Dublin, the salted cucumber snacks on a crowded Indian train, and the fresh seafood cooked to perfection on a boat ride through the Indian Sunderbans.

Sometimes the greatest pleasure can come from just…a bowl of something good, whether it be a bowl of potato soup shared with an elderly woman in a Peruvian market or a steaming bowl of delicious pho at a Vietnamese marketplace, the greatest of pleasures can come from the simplest of things.

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Down on the Street airs Monday, August 3 at 10pm E/P on the Travel Channel.


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