Street Snacks, Athens & Istanbul


Street snacks/food has always fascinated me whenever I visit a new city. And while most of these carts were probably targeted at tourists, it is still interesting to see what is on offer and what folks are eating… In Greece, of course the first cart to catch my eye was a pistachio vendor. He had just arrived at his spot and was still setting up. This “sea” of small, flavorful pistachio nuts was spread out on the cart and he would sell them by the kilo (though) you were certainly welcome to purchase as little as a couple of hundred grams if you desired.


There were also tons of stalls in high traffic areas selling fruit, and the apricots, cherries, plums, etc. were to die for. Incredibly good, and incredibly cheap.


Much to my amusement, I spied of this coconut vendor, who was asking a whopping Euro 1 for an eight or so of a coconut. That would place the price at say 600 pesos a coconut compared to our say PHP20 for the same ingredient in a Manila market. That is a 30x differential. So it shouldn’t bother me so much that cherries in Manila are say 10-15x the cost in Europe… This coconut cart was so fancy it had a “fountain” of iced water to sprinkle the coconut pieces, keep them cool, and presumable prevent the flies from landing on the cut pieces…


And with The Kid in tow and for the kid in all of us, how could you resist gelato or ice cream offerings as colorful as this… you gotta think artificial coloring. But never mind, a scoop or two can’t hurt you.


Pretzel or these sesame bread vendors were a dime a dozen, but oddly, I never managed to taste this… figuring I could always find another vendor… and in the end, it just slipped our minds…


…and they had similar offerings in Istanbul but again we forgot to have a taste!


Boiled and grilled corn was also on offer in both Athens and Istanbul…


…along with roasted chestnuts that had been partially peeled for your convenience. It’s bad enough we were enjoying all of the food during the main meals of the day throughout the trip, imagine if we indulged in as many snacks while out of the streets?


28 Responses

  1. I wonder if we could be as adventurous with street food in Manila? Certainly as childfen we had no hesitation in buying sorbetes, mangga, santol, puto, tahu, – is that still the case?

  2. certainly i would go for the salted pistachio nuts and the roasted chestnuts! i could eat a lot of those in one sitting.
    in manila, i wouldn’t mind buying from vendors their offerings of green mangoes, boiled peanuts, fried peanuts with lots of garlic, tahu…oh, i could go on and on. this is making me so homesick!!!

  3. What a nice entry to start my day.

    I am a believer that when you travel to a new place, the only way to experience and be a “local” for a day or so is to try their street food. After all, it is what local people feast on a daily basis.=) I would definitely eat the pistachios as it is both scarce and costly in Manila as well as the peaches and cherries. yumyum!=)

    I maybe wrong, but for me in any part of the world, their street food would always have that “dirty” element which makes it more exciting to eat. And having been tranied in Manila all my life, I know I am in good shape to be adventurous hihihi!=)

    Good morning MarketMan!=)

  4. It is refreshing to see street commerce is alive and well in the local food industry. It is particularly interesting to see that ice cream wrapped in bread still survives, as I used to think even as a child that it was a transient aberration.

  5. i love the picture of the pretzel cart! i couldn’t miss the gelato and pretzels. carbo loading, hehe

  6. wow, everything looks great! save the coconut and the corn since we have it here a lot. great post as usual :)

  7. Wonderful gelato, reminds me of italy, found on every street corner. This was practically what we had the whole day to cool off from all the walking. I wonder if theirs is as good.

  8. Hi MarketMan!

    I think its 1 euro = 60 pesos and not 600 pesos. Still expensive :-)


  9. Hi Marketman!

    Been a bit of lurker lately. Though couldnt help but comment on your not being able to taste the simits (sesame pretzel/bagel). They were one of the street foods I enjoyed a lot while in Istanbul. They were chewy (between bagel and soft pretzel) and really good as it is or with some melted cheese.

  10. Rowi, I regret not buying a simit, but maybe next time. Chen, actually it’s 1 Euro per eight of a coconut, so the whole coconut was roughly 8 euros or 13 US Dollars, or 585 pesos, more or less… :) Jenny, you may NOT dare to ask. :)

  11. Cherries and peaches in season, how I love summer. Reading the price adjustment for the coconut reminded me of seeing rambutan in a high end supermarket in Munich a couple of years back. 2euro per fruit, not per kilo, but for each hairy red fruit!!!! Yoiks.

  12. there’s something about street food, sans the fear of possible is often cheap, close to taste of food at home and if we think of the honest vendors, all done for the sake of earning a decent living.

  13. I chanced upon nice looking peaches in Makati Supermart though not as big as the ones I saw in US. It cost me about P200.00 for two pieces but sadly, they were sour and I ended up making peaches flambe but I “killed” the sourness with golden raisins.

    About streetfood…I read somewhere that in the US (is it NY?), there are street vendors who are selling gourmet food but not as pricey as the ones in restaurants. Wow, can you imagine the choices the streets offer?

  14. drunkenlily, I think you zeroed in on the charm and honesty of street food.

    Corrine, just yesterday, I was thinking about those gourmet carts all around NYC and wondering if the same could be applied to jolly jeeps in makati. Imagine, instead of the usual banana que and menudo in a plastic bag… pita wraps and paninis and hearty soups and pasta… or roast chicken, grilled veggies, salads…. Some of those cart vendors are chefs who’ve spurned the resto culture for more creative ( and financial) freedom.

  15. Yes sanitation is very important particulary in food handling but I still eat street food like fishballs, banana cue, turon, arroz caldo, goto, guinatan, pancit, maning adobo, sorbetes, taho, manggang hilaw in stick and more in the Philippines pero I never get sick. Just be very cautious of the the food, the food handler(s) and the sanitation where you are buying the food.

    This is part of my culture and I love it. I just wish though the vendors will maintain proper sanitation, proper personal hygiene and presentable stores.

    Walang street food like what I mentioned above sa abroad nor where I live in California unless you go to a Filipino restaurant.

  16. Did you get a chance to try “kokorech”? It’s Turkey’s one of Turkey’s most beloved snack/ street food. It’s made from sheep intestines and was one of my favorite culinary adventures in Istanbul.

  17. You needed the snacks to keep you moving right? Specially when you’re doing a lot of walking :), so don’t feel so bad after all!Our family has a rule whenever we go on trips or vacations, dapat walang-diet-diet! heehe

  18. It’s true. Street food still exists (and is evolving) in the many little thoroughfares of Metro Manila. It’s just the exodus into gated communities that makes us think they are dead :)

    The best street food I’ve had was in India, where the large agricultural sector and many home gardens allows people to sell things really cheap, and always delicious.

    This is not the case in larger cities in Europe, where being a street vendor requires outlay in terms of expensive input, permits (or even space rental!) In Asia and in smaller cities barriers to entrepreneurship and creativity (new ideas abound!) are low.

    2 rupee samosas=heaven.
    3 peso bananacue= heaven

  19. Very nice MM!!! I wonder if they had some more exotic street food like ours, betamax, adidas, IUD, helmet and the likes? Funny thing is, there’s a place behind St. Luke’s hospital they call ‘streetlife’ and you’ll be surprised to see some young doctors and medicine students eating there especially, the roasted exotic offerings mentioned above. How’s that for a doctor’s advice : )



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