Takin' It to the Streets

Once again our tabards have come out of the closet to get an airing.We have been jesting and japing, jousting and jollying.Tascas and tabernas have been popping up all over town, and street food is the order of the day.20,000 people supposedly have been on the streets of Castro Marim every night this week and they all need feeding.We took to the streets and see whats on offer...
The return of this annual festival always makes me curious about the concept of medieval fast food.There are some surprising parallels that can be drawn between medieval fast food consumption and modern fast food consumption. Medieval people generally viewed fast food as a kind of last resort of the poor –cheap low-quality food prepared dubiously by shady characters, unwholesome and unhealthy. Many modern fast food establishments enjoy a similarly bad reputation; social media and the press keeps us posted with news about the fundamentally unhealthy nature of fast food, and yet fast food consumption continues to rise. When we look at who ate and eats fast food, a stark pattern emerges: convenient, prepared foods, however unhealthy, are still disproportionately consumed by those with few economic resources.
Street food has always been renowned for being at the forefront of food innovation and therefore should be more than a pig on a spit,pork in a bun that pulls no punches, or a bit of Donna and the kebabs.There is a limit to the amount of crepes, buddha bowls,seitan burgers and falafels one new age person can eat.But looking at some of the more sophisticated offerings that are being purveyed, perhaps one should pay closer attention and take note.Todays cutting edge street food could be tomorrows Michelin star?
Street food is a relatively narrow category of food. Ready-to-eat, intended to be consumed immediately. Purchased from a hawker, or vendor, in a street or other public place, such as at a market or fair. This style of eating is in contrast to made-to-order foods (as would be available in inns or taverns or similar establishments) It is often sold from a portable food booth, food cart, or food truck and meant for immediate consumption. Some street foods are regional, but many have spread beyond their region of origin. Most street foods are classed as both finger food and fast food, and are cheaper on average than restaurant meals.Bread and ale were prevalent in medieval towns and cities, and buns or baps soon became the carrier for portions of cured or cooked meat.These foods are roughly equivalent to modern fast food, and were a unique facet of the history of urban food. Fast foods found in towns in the middle ages included spiced meat and fish pasties; cooked meats, game, and poultry (wild and domestic); “cheesecakes” and flans made of eggs, bread, cheese; and of course many varieties of pies.

On my street learning crusade I stumbled upon one such stall selling what appeared to be little pies.They were called pão do tesouro, and on closer examination were what turned out to be molten, garlicky cheese breads, which made me relish them with gusto.I did some further research and discovered that there is a very old Portuguese recipe called "O Tesouro escondidinho no Pão" This literally translates as "The hidden treasure in the bread" The treasure you hide in it can be anything from vegetarian, fish, shellfish, sausage or even small macaroni type pasta.What a great idea.I took the treasured pie home and set about creating a replicant.

"O Tesouro escondidinho no Pão"
makes 6
6 pão bijou or miniature bread rolls
100g alho Françes (Leeks)
2 dentes de alhosesmagado (2 cloves garlic crushed ) 
25g manteiga sem sal (unsalted butter)
1 colherada farinha (tablespoon flour)
150ml leite gordo ( full fat milk )
1 colherada vinho branco (tbsp white wine)
1 colher de chá mascarpone
50g chevre
50g parmegiano reggiano

Chop the leek finely.Sauteé the leek in the butter until glistening and soft.Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.Remove the pan from the heat,add the milk and white wine and return the pan to a medium heat stirring constantly until the sauce thickens,stir in the three cheeses and some chopped parsley.Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile slice a lid off the top of each roll and scoop out enough dough to allow the bread to be filled with the sauce.When the sauce is cool spoon the filling into the bread rolls and replace the tops.wrap each bread in a piece of foil so it is completely sealed and bake on a baking tray for 40 minutes at 180c.After 30 minutes remove the foil and lids. continue cooking them unwrapped for the last 10 minutes.Discard the foil but keep the lids warm.When ready remove the breads to a serving platter and replace the lids slightly off centre.Eat
with gusto. 
Back on the street again,smoky whiffs of grilling beckoned.The fragrances of Mediterranean spices mingled with others not so appealing.Charcoal cinders and dust filling the often acrid and arid evening air. All combined with the deathly smell of octopus tentacles and tuna drying on a hot grill! yes thin slices of tuna and octopus tentacles dry grilling without any oil or seasoning on them.A delicacy I was assured by its purveyor but I decided to pass.Could we see this being adopted on a novochic Avillez menu one day? He´s done "Greek street"this summer so next stop another Mediteranean "street."There’s a time and place for fine dining, but in 2018, street food staples like some that I have mentioned here should be given more than just a paper bag or cardboard container.


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