The good weather has awakened my senses to one of the things that I enjoy more in the US: discovering authentic food from around the world from street vendors. “I want a frankfurter.” This is the first thing my friend Cristina said when she arrived to New York last week. “Why would you want that?” I asked. “The typical thing I do when I arrive in the US is eat street food; a frankfurter and a slice of pizza.”. It’s what you see in the movies. “But it’s called hot dog here (perrito caliente in Spanish),” I told her. In Spain it’s called a frankfurter because the sausage came originally from Frankfurt, Germany.
In Spain there is no street food, you are supposed to eat in a restaurant or a bar or at home but never in the street: it is not considered polite. A restaurant is more formal. A bar is where you can get a coffee, a drink or a sandwich or a snack (like tapas), but that’s not “eating”. Eating is having a full meal in a restaurant or at home. If you have a sandwich for lunch, you didn’t eat. When we go to Spain, my husband insists in having his sandwich. “I can’t eat so many big meals,” he says.
The first time I had street food was a hot dog in New York when I was a tourist. I loved the freedom and informality of siting in the park while eating with my hands. This is one of the best things of being in the US, the freedom to do things like eating with your hands, in public, without being judged! I have discovered some of the best food from around the world is on street trucks in the US. When visiting friends in Los Angeles we found the best breakfast burritos on the trucks set up to serve Hispanic laborers and gardeners in Beverly Hills.
Our friends were appalled. Why do you want to eat that? We can take you to a great Mexican restaurant.” “These are the best burritos this side of the border,” my husband replied. The California Mexican food trucks have their own name in Spanglish. They are called “Loncheros,” because they serve lunch.
A few years ago we started a tradition with some friends of eating food of a different country whenever we met. There are a few rules: “It has to be authentic, cheap and we can’t repeat countries”. So far we have gone through sixteen countries without having had to travel beyond the perimeter of New York City. However In the Poconos is where I have discovered some of the best Hispanic foods. Not on trucks, but in restaurants and homes of friends. That is a story for another day!
Christina’s radio show, Tu Voz con Christina, is at 8 a.m. every Sunday on Pocono 96.7. Email: Christina@pocono967.com