Why not put these babies in a bun?
I had high hopes when I visited the Hester Street Fair on Saturday, but walked away disappointed. While last year’s Korean tacos had seemed fashion-forward, this year’s meatball sliders seemed hopelessly retrograde — especially given the proximity of the Meatball Shop, a few blocks distant. Have they no shame?
So I got to thinking. Is it so difficult to find other great choices for street-fair food, or even invent them? Read on and see if I’ve proved my point.
1. The smoky ground-meat kuftas made in tandoori joints would go really nicely in a bun. Actually better than a hot dog, with a real smoky flavor rather than an artificial one. Dressing? How about spicy yogurt? Doctored ketchup? Mixed Indian pickles chopped fine?
2. A vegetarian barbecue stall that offered seasonal vegetables (this week ramps, green tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, etc.) done over charcoal, with spice rubs or marinades. Offer a mixed-grill basket, too.
3. Serve excellent homemade pâtés in a bed of salad with a choice of mustards.
4. Create, say, four moist, colorful, and well-dressed composed salads representing different cultures, and offer one, two, three, or four, at discount if you get all four: Italy, bread salad; Thailand, ground pork larb; India, bhel poori dressed with tamarind and cilantro chutneys; Germany, bacon and vinegar potato salad with extra bacon.
5. A wurst-o-rama offering a choice of sausages in specially made buns. Signature could be two dissimilar wursts sharing the same elongated bun, with funny historical names. A selection of premium or even homemade mustards could add value.
6. A create-your-own tabbouleh counter, where you get a choice of cooked grains (spelt, barley, quinoa, millet) to be matched with herbs (parsley, mint, cilantro, etc.) to be tossed with the other components to make custom salads.
7. Fried cheese with a homemade cracker on the side.
8. Edible animals carved from vegetables.
9. A satay stand, featuring brochettes with little tiny morsels of meat, the way they do it in Southeast Asia. Tiny pieces maximize flavor and reduce cooking time, conserving fuel. Offer a choice of dipping sauces and keep the price low, at $1 per satay.
10. Offer sodas individually crafted on the spot using mixologist-quality flavorings and ingredients. Dress the vendors in steampunk outfits.