Curbside Cuisine: Tasting Cultures in Food Markets

Photo by Sara Marlowe. cc

Photo by Sara Marlowe. cc

Stacks of fresh, crusty bread balance precariously next to enormous pots of curry and piles of olives, mangoes, and fish; the cries of hawkers and the pungent smell of spice and hot oil fill the air; people brush past.

Wandering through a food market is a sensory experience—a blend of the world’s most succulent smells, tastes, sights, and sounds. Colors blend with unique flavor. It’s enough to make any food lover deeply, helplessly happy.

Embracing Virginia Woolf’s platitude that “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well,” street food vendors offer comforting tastes from home and exotic tastes from everywhere else—at affordable prices.

Don’t be afraid to try local street food! Sampling the medley of new cuisine in a food market is a quick and tasty way to become acquainted with the culture of a new place. Whether you are in Bombay or Boston, street food can be found nearly everywhere, making it easy to experience the tastes of the world.

Here’s a sampling of Stowaway’s favorite locales for great street food and food markets.

Borough Market, London

Nestled just a few blocks from the Globe Theatre and the banks of the Thames River, Borough Market in Southward, London, offers some of the finest dining the city has to offer.

The open-air market is unique in its wide variety of dining options, from world-renowned chefs in well-established restaurants to amateurs who simply love to cook. The market stalls feature seafood, dairy, spice, and charcuterie.

Truckeroo Food Truck Festival, Washington, DC

Food trucks from around the greater Washington, DC, area gather once or twice a month on Fridays between April and October for an exhibition of local and international cuisine.

A growing trend around the United States, food trucks contain small kitchens in which to prepare gourmet food. With the same certification standards as restaurants, food trucks are a hygienic source of       delicious eats.

The Truckeroo Festival offers delicacies as varied as Cajun shrimp and Vietnamese egg rolls, fresh crab sandwiches and Korean barbeue, and gelato and empanadas. Local residents love the fresh lobster rolls.

Shilin Night Market, Taipei

Spilling off covered sidewalks and into thoroughfares, over 500 food stalls compete with karaoke bars and Internet cafes in Taiwan’s cool, vibrant night air. Night markets are an enormous success in Taiwan and offer a variety of Asian cuisine. In the heart of Taipei, Shilin Market hits its business peak at about 10 pm each night and doesn’t die down until the early hours of the morning. A famous delicacy is Taipei’s oyster omelet, known for its savory taste.

The Union of Culture and Flavor 

Savory flavors blend with sweet, and culture meets convenience in food markets around the world. Learn more about your own culture by trying street food near you and by fearlessly sampling local cuisine while abroad. Street markets offer the perfect marriage between the familiar and the exotic, a place to unite—and a place to eat fantastic food.

—Sarah Juchau

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