Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Street Food

Today it was 73 degrees. Not just at 8am either. It was comfortable, with a cool breeze, all day! I was so happy about this. I walked and didn't sweat. It threatened to rain, but it never did. To help ease the suffering of another day of bureaucracy, we decided to go to lunch and try one of the street carts the city is famous for. In LA, there are food trucks that move about and offer many different things, but here in Philly, they mostly have street carts. Some of these carts are ho-hum affairs that offer sodas, fries, hoagies and the like, but on occasion you find a gem. They tend to have their designated spots, so it makes them easy to find.

We parked on Market, in front of this sign. I don't know what the hell it's trying to tell me, but we decided to take a chance and park there. I think this sign is just a small clue as to why driving here is infuriating.

This is on a major street! Where you have 2.1 seconds to decide if a spot is worth taking!

We had heard about this cart from M's brother, who told us it was basically a felafel cart, but you don't exactly order. The guy that runs the cart just gives you food and you take it. It changes all the time. He assured us it was good, very good, but he couldn't quite explain how the process works. He's not the best storyteller. We kind of got the feeling that this guy is a kind of felafel nazi, only giving one kind of meal and not taking any kind of requests. We knew the corner where the cart stood, so we headed out.

It's just a cart on the street, very small, and a long line heading out of it. It is decorated with lots of flowers and the smell of roasty toasty food beckons you from across the street. You have to wait awhile for this food, it's not really a good option if you have a lunch hour, because once you actually get your meal, you don't have much time to eat it.

I tried to go to the front of the cart to see if there were any kind of menu or indication of what I would be purchasing. No luck. There were a couple of framed newspaper articles, but I wasn't close enough to read them, so I waited until I was closer. The articles were actually helpful. They explained that this guy (Christos) is at 20th and Market every day, and sells a limited amount each day, full of fresh ingredients. It's a one-man operation. There is a charcoal grill in the cart! He grills chicken, deep fries delicate and wonderful felafel, and creates a platter for you of arugula, grilled grapes, pasta (random), hot peppers, all drenched in some kind of magical reddish sauce, topped with a large, freshly toasted pita. He then picked through his selection of peaches to find the perfect one for each customer.

It was freaking delicious. It was also $10, which we were not expecting. Kind of a lot for a cart lunch. Don't get me wrong, it was tasty and way too much food. We totally should have shared one, but damn. That's 20 of our dollars! It was a heavenly combination htough. I quickly built a felafel chicken sandwich with my pita. The peach was a good way to end the meal, too, as my spicy food needed something cool and palate cleansing. I still have leftovers in my fridge right now, and even though I just finished dinner, it sounds appetizing. Maybe a midnight snack.

I am hoping that we find just as amazing (but cheaper) options around the city. It's tough to find out what's good. We aren't young kids anymore who end up buying all kinds of street food because we've had too much to drink and need something to sop up the liquor on our way home. I feel like those kids are on the internet, though, talking about where to find these places. I'm totally using their damn ridiculous energy and magical hangover healing powers to my advantage.

OH, and don't forget to take my poll about Halloween costumes to the right here. I need some help. Last year I knew by February what I was gonna be and this year I've got too many choices!

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