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The World's Best Street Food

        Elote (Pronounced 'eh-low-teh') is a not-so-sweet corn on the cob, with great fat kernels that burst in the mouth. The smoky, pit-roasted ears are a staple across Mexico, and it's a dish that is customised, like so many others, to the eater's taste.
        Maize is the very heart of Mexican food, and this is the plant in its most basic form. There is little doublt that the Aztecs, Incas and other pre-Colombian indigenous civilisations feasted upon whole cobs of corn, although the butter, cheese and mayonnaise that are now frequently used as condiments are relatively modern embellishments.
        In Mexico, you're never far from corn roasting over coals, The carred, sweet kernels are fat and hot, redolent of the fire. To eat the cob, skewer it using a stick or grasp it by the undressed husk. Chilli and lime -- that ever-dependable Mexican duo -- are all that's needed to complete the feast, and perhaps a splodge of mayonnaise and a handful of grated cheese. In the north of the country, you'll find elote boiled and topped with cream, cheese and chilli powder. This is food to be eaten as you wander through the market looking for the next course.
 masala dosa
        The classic masala dosa is a paper-thin rice flour pancake staffed with a zesty curry of potatoes, onions and dried red chillies. Dosas can be had rolled, unrolled, stuffed, unfermented and even stacked in towers like American pancakes. All are served with a side order of coconut chutney and sambar -- a fragrant dipping sauce flavoured with lentil dhal, tamarind and mustard seeds.
        First mentioned in sixth-century Indian poems, dosas have been linked to the town of Udupi on the coast of Karnataka, which is famed for the rich vegetarian cuisine cooked in its Hundu monasteries. Legend has it that stuffing the dosa with spiced vegetables was a trick to hide the onions, which were said to inflame the passions and lead the faithful away from the path to enlightenment.
        Dosas are eaten by hand, ripped into pieces and dipped into fiery crucibles of sambar and chutney. Start at the crispy extremities and eat your way to the yielding certre, whre the sabji (vegetable curry) has soaked into the shell. The setting for your meal is often as vibrant as the spices found within it -- street stalls, roadhouses and station platforms, all surrounded by vast crowds of people on the move. Thisis a dish to consume on the hoof -- but dotake a moment to observe the skill of the vendor, who swirls batter across the ghee-covered hotplate with the bottom of a steel bowl, like a potter preparing his wheel.
        A summer staple of the New England yacht set, the lobster roll combines both high-end and humble ingredients -- lobster meat (around half a kilo), mixed with mayonnaise or butter, stuffed into an absurdly small hot dog bun.
        Once so plentiful it was considered a poor man's food, lobster got a makeover in the 19th century when New England society women bagan to enjoy it in salad form, rather than doing the 'distasteful' work of cracking the shell themselves, In the early 20th century, someone came up with the bright idea of piling the labster salad into a bun for easy eating, and the lobster roll was born. By the mid-20th century, it was established as an essential part of a summer drive up Maine's coastal highway.
        A lobster roll is best enjoyed after a morning spent strolling and swimming at one of Maine's pebbly beaches. Some lobster shacks are found on the beachfront, while others are located on the outskirts of historic fishing villages or perched on top of pedestrian bridges. A good shack will always have a queue at lunchtime, but don't be deterred. Order at the window, then stake out a picnic table as you wait for your number or name to be called. The overflowing labster roll will arrive parked inside a tiny paper basket. Depending on the shack, your first bite may be warm and buttery, or cool and slick with mayo. Next comes the silkiness of the meat, the softness of the bun and the crunch of celery -- together, they're a local taste of the summer.
        Try the lobster roll at Red's Eats in the twon of Wiscasset in Maine, which has been in business since 1938 (around £10;00 1 207 882 6128).    
jerked pork -
        Pork, which is marinated with Scotch bonnet chillies, allspice, sugar, cinnamon and a plethora of other ingredients, is slow-cooked over a smoky wood fire to create this dish, which is best eaten using your fingers.
        Pork was the original jerk meat, a leftover from the Spanish conquests of the 15th and 16th centuries. A less happy reminder of Spanish rule were the Maroons -- African slaves left to fend for themselves on the islands, and brutally hunted by the British. The Maroons needed meat that could be easily transported and kept, so they came up with a jerk seasoning made from readily available ingredients. It had the added bonus of a adding flavour and, smoked over a fire of pimento wood and berries, the seasoning pierced deep into the meat.
        In the Caribbean, you'll have no problem spotting the jerk stalls, which are surrounded in billowing clouds of scented smoke. The cooking vehicle of choice is usually a split oil barrel, its coals expertly tended. Pimento wood is less common now, and the smoking of the meat pretty much extinct. Still, jerk seasoning varies from stall to stall. The meat should be tender and bursting with juice: the heat comes first -- a fruity blast of chilli -- then a sweetness to temper the fire. Each bite should have a whisper of allspice, a hint of nutmeg or cinnamon, and that blackened, sticky crust -- the quintessence of jerk.
        Scotchie's jerk centre has outlers in Jamaica's Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Kingston. Dine in open thatched-roof shelters and enjoy authentic side dishes such as roast breadfruit and yam (dishes from £1.50;00 1 44 794 9457).
      Falafel's little brother combines fried aubergine and hard-boiled egg with tahini, amba (Iraqi-style mango chutney) and chopped vegetables to create a cheap, filling and healthy meal served in a pitta. Boiled potato, chopped parsley, and tomato and cucumber salad are also used for the pitta's stuffing, which is salted, sprinkled with finely ground pepper and garnished with an extra dollop of tahini.
        Traditionally eaten by Iraqi Jews on Saturday morning, sabih -- known as bid babinjan ('egg in aubergine') in Baghdad -- was brought to Israel by Iraqi immigrants in the early 1950s. For years appreciated Mainly in Tel Aviv's suburbs among large populations of Iraqi Jews, the dish has recently become popular with Israelis in the city's more fashionable quarters.
        Ask an Israeli of Iraqi origin where to find the best sabih and chances are they'll tell you about long-ago Sabbath mornings in Baghdad. Traditionlists swear by old-style sabih, on offer from hole-in-the-wall vendors with chest-high glass cases and a few bar stools, while modish feinshmekerim ('connoisseurs', in Israeli slang and Yiddish) often champion sleek shops featuring audacious fasion dishes. What everyone is looking for is the perfect mixture of complementary flavours and contrasting textures. As you bite through the pitta, the warm aubergine willmeet crunchy, spring-green parsley, juicy tomato with soft morsels of egg, tangy amba mixed with crisp slivers of onion, and the heat of green chilli, mellowed by creamy tahini.
        Hippo Falafel Organi in Aviv serves up both traditional and invovative takes on the dish (from £3.20;00 972 3 609 3394).
        You could call pho (pronounced 'feu') a nookdle soup, but to put it so plainly would be a grave injustice. Commonly eaten at breakfast, it's a combination of beef stock -- with notes of onion, ginger, star anise and coriander -- rice nookles, chillies and beanshoots, which is topped with slices of beef brisket, chicken or meatballs and a squeeze of lime.
        Pho, which has its origins in the cuisines of France and China, was popularised around the end of the 19th century. The Vietnamese took the rice noodles from their northern neighbour and a taste for red meat from the colonialists, and created something entirely new. Some say that pho is derived from the French dish pot-au-feu, while others argue that it is Chinese in origin, stemming from 'fan', a Cantonese word for noodles.
        Picture dawn breaking across Vietnam, with the background hum of scooter engines yet to reach its mid-morning crescendo. The pho sellers have set up stalls, some little more than a battered collection of metal pans, while others offer plastic tables; whichever you choose, it's the broth that matters. The broth is the heart and soul of pho, and should be rich and deeply flavoured. The noodles should be freshly made -- soft with a hint of firmness -- while it is best to use chillies that are mild rather than fierce. Bean sprouts add a satisfyingly crunchy texture, and with a dash of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime, breakfast is ready.
        The Quan An Ngon restaurant in Hanoi has a gorgeous garden and does exemplary pho (from £1.40;00 84 4 3942 8162).
churros shoppingbear
        The Spanish take on a doughnut, the churro is a long, delicately-ridged tube Zthe dough is piped through a star-shaped nozzle, that's deep-fried until golden, dusted with sugar-or sometimes cinnamon-and then dunked in to thick hot chocolate. Sold in churrerfas and from stalls in the street, this is an Iberian breakfast to beat them all.
        The churro sheep was a breed known for the quality of its wool. The shepherds who looked after them were only able to carry the basics, which in Spain was fried bread-simple and easy to cook on the go. Sugar was later sprinkled on top and the star shaped form became popular, allowing the outside to crisp up while the centre remains soft. In some parts of the country, these deep-fried treats are known as porras.
        You have the hangover to end them all - the sort that renders normal conversation impossible. Even thinking hurts. However, you catch the scent of sweet, frying dough, stop and look around, and spot the stall. A great vat is filled with boiling oil and the fresh dough, pushed through that star shaped nozzle, is plopped in. There is a delectable sizzle; no more than a minute passes before the crisp, piping-hot tubes are sieved out, drained and sprinkled with sugar. The first bite is red-hot and deeply addictive-a crunch followed by blissful softness. A few more bites and it's gone. The second churro disappears in record time. By the time the hot chocolate arrives, you're coming back to life, your grimace replaced by a sugary grin.

        The Chocolateria San Gines in Madrid serves some of the finest churros in the country (£1.60-£3.50; 00 34 91 365 65 46).
phat kaphrao shoppingbear
        The Thai word kaphrao means 'holy basil', which is the essential ingredient in this stir-fried dish. In phat kaphrao, the plant is combined with some protein -- typically minced pork or chicken, but it can also be seafood -- along with coarsely chopped garlic, chillies and, sometimes, chopped yardlong bean. The dish is seasoned with fish sauce and a pinch of sugar, served over rice and usually crowned with a fried egg.
        Phat kaphrao is a relatively recent introduction to Thai cuisine and didn't become commonplace until about 50 years ago, although Thai holy basil has been a well-used local ingredient for a long time. In ancient India, the herb was used in ayurvedic medicine and is considered a sacred plant among Hindus. Like much Thai street food -- and prticularly because phat kaphrao is work-fried -- the dish most likely has at least partial Chinese origins.
        Unlike orther Thai street dishes, there generally aren't vendors who specialise only in phat kaphrao. Typically, the dish is found at 'made-to-order' carts, stalls and restaurants. These establishments do a huge variety of dishes, and can be recognised by a tray of raw ingredients. A diner will generally have a look at what ingredients are available and place their order directly with the cook. The steaming dish will emerge from the work a few minutes later. Although plat kaphrao is predominately salty and spicy, it is always served with a small bowl of finely sliced chillies in fish sauce, and sometimes a squeeze of lime -- the Thai equivalent of the salt shaker.
        Any raan ahaan taam sang, or 'made-to-order', restaurant or stall in Thailand will serve phat kaphrao (1£).
cicchetti in venice
        These bite-sized morsels--the Venetian answer to tapas and the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon spent lost among the canals--can be found in tiny bars all over the city. Cichetti (promounced 'chee-ket-tee') comprise a range of hot and cold fooods. The term derives from the Latin word cicus, meaning 'very small', and can include everything from olives to diminutive servings of seafood, meat or vegetables placed on top of a slice of bread.
        During the 15th century, Venice was not only the wealthiest and most powerful city in Europe, it was also considered to be the captital of fine dining, attracting the world's and merchants--brought a diversity of foods to the many bars that had long lined its side streets and plazas, and the worker's tradition of a quick, small sandwich with a glass of wine continues today.
        Just approach the counter and point at whichever food looks most appealing, Fish is a Venetian staple, so you'll often find fried shrimp or calamari, as well as other specialities including fresh oysters, razor clams, baacala mantecato (cod whipped with olive oil), sarde in saor (sardines marinated in vinegar with onions) with polenta cakes, and mushrooms on a bauette slice. Oher tiny treats include polpette (a fried veal-andpotato meatball), courgette flowers and baby octopus. To locate and authentic cicchetti bar, keep and eye out for an unassuming storefront with locals spilling from the door.
        The dimly lit Cantina do Mori near Rialto Market is venice's oldest cichetti bar, dating back to 1462 (from £1.50;00 39 41 522 5401).
cormish pasty
        In 2011 the EU granted the Cornish pasty--beloved by Brits as an edible lunchbox Protected Geographical Indication status, declaring it a food of regional importance. Only those slow-baked in Cornwall can bear the title 'Cornish pasty', and the ingredients must be chunked potato, sweded, onion and at least 12.5 percent beef; the pastry must be crimped to the side.
        Pasties have been eaten since medieval times, and by the 1530s Henry VIII's third wife, Jane Seymour, was reputedly rather folk of Cornwall who made pasties their own, By the end of the 18th century, few miners or farmers went to work without one, The ingredients were cheap, the product portable and the crimped ridge lifesaving: a disposable grip for miners working amid hight levels of arsenic
        This may not be fancy food, but it's the most appetising sort of fuel. The dense filling lightly seasoned, served hot--is robust and sustaining. Scents of baking waft from many a Cornish shop, and buying a pasty is an unceremonious affair--you're as likely to find a good one in the village post office as in any artisan deli. Biting into a proper pasty, the pastry tender but firm, with onion slithers jostling tender hunks of beef skirt, is like sinking into a battered old sofa--warm and deliciously comforting. Although pasties never cantain fish (it's thought bad luck), the best place to eat one is by the sea. Stroll along some of Cornwall's 300 miles of coast--a rollercoaster of cliff tops and coves--and never will a pasty taste better.
        Ann's Famous Pasty shop, on the Lizard Peninsula In Cornwall, sells pasties in-store and online (£2.85;


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