CIA chefs and students rushing to set up for World Marketplace
CIA Greystone's Worlds of Flavor 2009: Street Food, Comfort Food kicked off yesterday afternoon, with several fascinating presentations followed by World Marketplace, a jaw-dropping spread of delicious specialties from around the world.
Andrea Nguyen introduces Singapore's KF Seetoh, founder of Makansutra
After extolling the 'thrilling immediacy' and deceptive simplicity of street food, Rick Bayless took us on a trip to a favorite tacos de cazuela stall in Mexico City. Bobby Chin shared his modus operandi for learning how to cook street food in Vietnam: show up at a stall again and again -- at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, and so on. Vendors, he said, don't want to teach their specialty, so learning by observation is the only option.
Roy Choi of Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck fame talked about how running his Los Angeles truck has enabled him to connect with his community, and shared the secret to his chili paste-marinated pork ribs and belly: massage the meat long, slow, and with feeling, and let your soul flow out through your fingers into the meat. (He also wondered -- rightly, we think -- why Korea isn't represented at this year's conference: 'I mean, Korean street food is off the hook!')
KF Seetoh of Makansutra fame introduced us to Singaporean makers of murtabak and roti prata, and Paul Bartolotta talked about Southern Italy's grandmothers as inspiration and took us, with the help of native chefs, into the kitchens of Apulia. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food expert Anissa Helou introduced her friend, Turkish chef Musa Dagdeviren, who stoked appetites when he (via live feed) slid roasted chunks of lamb from a skewer onto crusty loaves of pita just pulled from a wood-fired oven, and the fabulous Paula Wolfert demonstrated how to make paper-thin warka, a Moroccan crepe, with a paintbrush.
In the CIA Greystone kitchen
While all this knowledge was being shared, across the hall, in the mammoth CIA Greystone kitchen, street and comfort foods from all over the world were being prepared by hundreds of resident chefs and students and the events guest chefs.
Frying Bolinhos de Acaraje, a Bahian street food
Cred given to the ladies who keep the kitchen in clean pots and pans
After the presentations attendees converged at the World Marketplace, where they grazed on treats from Singapore and Thailand, Italy and Spain, Peru and Brazil -- and everywhere in between.
Serving up Caruru, a Bahian steamed dumpling
For us the highlights of the evening were fresh mozzarella from Apulia, a delicious chickpea soup from Tunisa, shrimp ceviche with popcorn from Peru, salt cod salad and white gazpacho (made with almonds, olive oil, garlic, and bread) from Catalonia, and chef Dagdeviren's amazing lahmacun.
We lingered longest at the Bahian table, where we packed ourselves with spicy banana leaf-steamed dumplings stuffed with dried shrimp and fried black-eyed pea fritters tinted red from palm oil, eaten split open, smeared with okra paste and a coconut milk-based spread, and small, spicy shell-on shrimp.
Icy pisco sours with a kick, courtesy of Maricel Presilla
Right next door, at chef and South American food expert's table, they were serving strong pisco sours.
Turkish chef Musa Dagdeviren slices lahmacun
The queue in front of Musa Dagdeviren's table was crazy long, and it took several attempts to finally get ahold of a piece of his lahmacun, a crusty bread thinly spread with lamb and tomatoes. The wait was well worth it.
Chef Dagdeviren and friends