bits and pieces

Friday, March 18, 2011

urban delights: street food

The Roaming Dragon... roaming.
One of the (only) things wrong with Montreal is the lack of available street food. Subsequently, one of the things that I cherish about Vancouver (and Toronto!) is the abundance of street food. The Vancouver food scene has exploded the past two years, due in part to a program launched by the city to encourage street vendors. This program was pushed by high profile local chefs like Vikram Vij (of Vij's, duhh).  Subsequently, the scene has exploded with a tonne of great places like Fresh, Local, Wild; the classic Japadog; Re-Up Barbeque; and the Roaming Dragon. Besides changing the 'lunch culture' in Vancouver (it's funny to watch business people buy their food, and then suddenly realize they don't have a table and have to tentative approach a ledge or a park bench to eat at), it has also encouraged greater diversity in the food scene and provided an alternative for local restaurants looking to expand. The food is great, and generally high quality, and thoughtfully made, AND more accessible.  I think it's a great, democratic idea, and the success of many of these carts has underscored how much Vancouverites are enjoying their street eats. It's a nice change from your token hotdogs. 

The token hot dog stand.
Union Station.
That said, I love me a token hotdog. Toronto is covered with hot dog stands. I love these stands so much, especially because they offer really great veggie dogs, and because I met my man-love AT a hotdog stand, and a few days into our courtship we may have eaten double hot dogs for lunch and dinner one day. Classy.  They may not be in the same league as Fresh, Local, Wild, but who can say no to street meat? Seriously, when I got back from backpacking around Europe, the one thing I was craving (besides sleep), was inexplicably a veggie dog. For 3.50, you get a pop and a veggie dog, and hopefully a beautiful day to enjoy it on. 

Hotdog LUV
There's just something refreshingly unpretentious about street food. You can talk with your mouth full (mouthful?), put as many disgusting toppings on it as you want, and you will probably end up spilling on yourself at some point.  While Toronto is predominately hotdogs, I saw a lebanese shawarma cart on University. I hope this is a sign that Toronto's street vendors are about to get as progressive as Vancouver's. While the climate is obviously different in Toronto, the hotdog stands manage to stay abundantly in business all winter long. As Canadians we take advantage of every warm sunshiney day we get... After being stuck working all morning (possibly in a soul-sucking office), why wouldn't you want to eat outside? 

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