When in a big city, you always notice the rush people are in. And since they’re constantly in undertime, they often eat things that are fast to prepare and can be bought on the run. This is how street-side food got so extremely popular. I give you a review of “street dishes” you have to try in different capitals of the world.
(Ok, so technically it’s not a capital, but it might as well be. Just go with it!)
I don’t know about you guys, but for me America has never been about hamburgers. It’s been about the sausage in a bun, with ketchup and a spicy mustard, sold directly on the street from a cart. This, for me personally, is a bigger, more important symbol of the United States of America than for example Mount Rushmore. I still haven’t tasted this particular dish in this particular location, but I’m sure it doesn’t taste as good as most people (including me) imagine. Still – it’s a must. And also, it doesn’t cost that much – from what I’ve heard and read, the average hot-dog is $ 3.5.
It may come as a surprise, but don’t let the name deceive you: french fries are the speciality of Belgium – not France. Those well known deep fried potatoes were prepared on the territory of today’s Belgium for ages and it’s this country that has the perfect recipe for them. French fries should be prepared from a special sort of potatoes, that are quite big, have a specific long shape and consist of a lot of starch which makes them absorb much less fat. In Belgium they’re often served as a separate dish, with just a sauce. But over the years there’s been a huge debate on sauces, so now there is a variety of them (usually mayonnaise based), that you can take your fries with. And if that’s too much of a choice for you, there’s always ketchup or salt (french fries with just salt is actually my pick!). In Brussels for such a treat you will pay €2-6 ($3-8), depending on the distance from the touristic center of the city and the quality of food.
This one is a unique invention from Poland. Every Zapiekanka consists of a long (even 50 cm – almost 20 in) slice of baguette with some ham, champignons and yellow cheese on top, generously covered with mayo and tomato sauce (probably to disguise the taste of ham and the smell of cheese). So basically, when ordering a Zapiekanka be prepared to get a french baguette with pizza topping warmed up in an oven (or a microwave). This phenomenon is available in almost every bigger train station as well as in fast food booths in city centers. And if you’re ever in Poland, I highly recommend you try it. Not for the taste of course, but for the experience. Especially, that it rarely costs more than 6-7 zloty, which is about $2.
Did you get thirsty from all the salty treats I’m serving you? I suggest you go to Moscow then. It has an intriguing drink to offer. Kvass is traditionally made from the fermented dark bread (usually rye). That’s why it’s full name is “hklebnyi kvas”, which literally translates as “bread acid”. It was firstly mentioned in the 16th century but the tradition of preparing it dates back way further. Kvass lost it’s popularity after Coke and Pepsi entered the Eastern European markets, but it is now going on the offensive and fights back to regain some of the market share. It is being promoted as a “patriotic drink” and this strategy actually works! Kvass is sold in bottles in regular grocery shops, but in bigger cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg you can bump into a few carts with kvass as well as some other “traditional fast food” (as weird as it sound). A cup of 0.2 liter costs 30-40 RUB (about $1) and it’s perfect in the hot city summer.
Italians have the best food in the world. Or maybe the best marketing. Anyhow, after a full meal you cannot say “no” to the dessert that is a divine, creamy taste of italian gelato melting in your mouth. Especially since they come in practically every flavor you can think of. I usually go with vanilla and grapefruit. Quite unusual mix, but it’s really tasty. In Rome one portion of ice-cream can cost up to €10 ($13), but I’m of the opinion, they’re worth every money.
Food takes a huge part of experiencing a culture of a country you’re visiting. Tasting local dishes is as important as visiting museums, admiring architecture and talking to people, who live here. So besides going to a restaurant and ordering a full meal of tradition, don’t forget to take something on the run – it might not be as nutritious, but it certainly is worth it!