Street Food: What do those words mean to you? Food trucks? Halal Carts? Modern media has conditioned us to interpret the term in a certain way. Street food is a grimy hot dog bought from a cart on the corner and consumed on the walk back to the office. But it is so much more than that. Food is ingrained into human existence; we all share the need for nourishment. Well, there is this Hindu guru named Prahlad Jani who hasn’t eaten or drank anything for 70 years, but for most of us meditation isn’t quite so filling. Food is everywhere. It doesn’t travel in a pipeline from the grocery store or restaurant to our fridge. It spills onto the streets and interacts with us as we live our lives. It helps differentiate Chinatown from Arthur Avenue. Bins of weird dried scallops and mushrooms nearly block off the sidewalk in front of the place next to the open air fish market that sells separated red snapper heads. Hanging whole rabbits and cured meats stare at you longingly from a butcher shop window. A wafting scent of ginger and garlic blasts into your sinuses as someone opens the door to leave that noodle spot. Our interaction with food in public is much more than simply buying it on the street and eating it.
This first installment of Foot to Mouth is devoted to summer, as all of us strive to wring out every last bit of fun from it while it slowly slips away. Summer is the I-ate-that-ice-cream-cone-from-the-Coolman-truck-too-fast brain freeze or the sausage-and-pepper-juice-drip-down-your-chin as that asshole from the dunk tank calls your sister fat. It means a lot of things to all of us, especially hot sun and waves, and Coney Island. Coney, home of the Cyclone and subsequently a minor league baseball team called the Cyclones, is best known for its boardwalk, beachfront amusements, and Nathan’s hot dogs. The freak shows of old have been tamed over the years, but a person can still catch a heart attack on fried everything from stalls hidden amongst the carnival rides and perched along the boardwalk. Scents of fried dough and sizzling beef overpower the the gentle kiss of sea air. Don’t come here expecting to see anything green, but do save a lot of room for dessert. The best advice is to forget about your diet for a day and get situated on a beachfront bench with a plate of hot dogs and fried things stacked high. Maybe top it off with some deep fried Oreos if you are feeling adventurous. Oh, and make sure you ride the cyclone before your meal.