When we came back from a month in the US last year, the majority of people at home were genuinely surprised that we loved the food we ate while away. I guess the media- both the news and the prevalence of American daytime talk shows featuring obese children asking Maury for free lipo- can have that effect. But there’s more to American food than grease and cheese. I’ve never seen a city with the diversity of food that we saw in New York City- almost anything imaginable is right there on the street, and it’s delicious.
But I won’t pretend that we didn’t play into the stereotype a little bit, especially in our first few days. Although we felt like death afterwards (particularly Chadwiko, who couldn’t help but order the vegan double-down), Foodswings was a favourite of ours. So for our US street food day, I couldn’t help but choose two of the most ‘stereotypically American’ foods we saw sold on street corners.
Hot dog vendors seemed to be everywhere we looked. True, we visited New York in the middle of summer, and the majority of said vendors had filled their carts with ice cream instead, but they were around. And nowhere more prominently than Coney Island. But hot dogs, while an American classic, are a bit boring on their own- chilli dogs, on the other hand, are way more fun and way more quintessentially American.
For the hot dogs themselves, I used the recipe from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. Other than the recipe for potato wedges (a staple in our house), I don’t use this book enough. The hot dogs were easy to prepare and tasted great- and the wet ingredients, when mixed together, were that exact disconcerting shade of pink so familiar amongst hot dogs. I don’t really like commercially available vegan hot dogs, so I can see myself turning back to this recipe when the occasion arises.
The hot dogs were topped with a basic chilli, nacho Cheezly, Tofutti sour cream and chives. I’ve never been a huge fan of hot dogs, but I can definitely get behind these.
It was at this street fair we stumbled across in Brooklyn that we came across the one street food that made us look at each other and say, ‘only in America’. Almost certainly not vegan, I didn’t try it, but come USA street food day, there was only one street dessert that I could possibly attempt to recreate- deep-fried Oreos.
I did some research and found that most deep-fried Oreo recipes (yes, there are multiple people who wanted to eat these badly enough that they created a recipe) use some kind of pancake batter to coat the Oreo. ‘We’ve come this far’, I thought to myself. ‘Why start considering your health now?’- as I reached for a box of cocoa powder and bottle of Cooper’s stout. Chocolate beer waffle batter it was (the recipe from Vegan Brunch, to be precise).
As Chadwiko and I tentatively bit into these, we concluded that they were less disgusting than anticipated. The waffle batter was crisp, and gave way to partially-melted Oreos. Of course, it was like being punched in the mouth with sugar, but it wasn’t necessarily a bad-tasting punch. Nevertheless, after one and a half of these, I had to stop and drink a huge glass of water before retreating to the couch to clutch my stomach in tearful regret.
Will we make them again? I doubt it (it would take a lot of beer to make me consider it- and hopefully then I would possess the common sense not to attempt deep-frying anything in that state of inebriation). But at least I now know what I’m (not) missing.
America, you make me feel sick and happy and overwhelmed and at home all at once. Let’s be friends forever.