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If you’re looking for something a little bit different for your entertainment menu this summer, why not give street food a try?
You can plan an entire meal from salads and pork tacos all the way through to desserts, borrowing the cuisine and flavorful wares of street vendors from around the globe.
Perfect for a block party or a backyard cookout, street food is informal and easy to eat standing up – which helps your guests to mingle and socialize as they dine, keeping the party atmosphere lively and engaged.
Put some world music on the tunes-player, and celebrate diversity with these popular dishes.
Plan on having a large barbeque to handle slow-cooking duties such as pulled pork, roasted lamb or jerk chicken. And have your friends bring a couple of portable grills for kebabs, skewers and veggies. Fill some large bins with ice for chilling drinks, and let your guests serve themselves.
Lay out a variety of ethnic breads for bunwiches as an alternative to hamburgers – try homemade pita or naan bread with gyros and falafel, or fresh sourdough buns to accompany pulled pork.
And lightly grilled sliced baguettes are ideal for spreads, pâtés or as the foundation for appetizers.
Asparagus, corn, sliced peppers, wedges of summer and winter squash, green beans and yam fries all cook up nicely on the grill and can work as finger food.
Set a table with seasonings, condiments and sauces – and label the more exotic ones with a note to indicate which dish they accompany.
Fill a wheelbarrow with ice and set up a salad bar – nestle in large glass bowls of Veracruz Prawn Cocktails, a selection of tossed green salads or a couple of regionally flavored pasta salads.
Have lots of paper napkins on hand along with disposable dishes, or a set of inexpensive dishes that can go into the dishwasher and then be boxed up for the next party.
And an ice cream maker for homemade frozen dessert is always a popular way to finish any meal.
Veracruz Prawn Cocktail
Start with a cool, fresh shrimp cocktail served Veracruz-style. A local delicacy, every café and strolling vendor with cart or wheelbarrow will be marketing this salad with their own signature sauce.
And the sauce isn’t one you’ll find bottled in the grocery store, as each version will have its own variations. Truly a cool and refreshing taste treat for summer, it’s not to be missed.
Follow the shrimp salad with a variety of meat and veggie skewers, like savory Moroccan-style kebabs – always a popular selection.
A common street food throughout Morocco, the smell of fragrant, piping-hot grilled meat is tantalizing and is often wrapped in fresh-baked pita bread, then topped with an herbed yogurt sauce.
Staying on the skewer theme, satay offer tender, marinated meat loaded onto one end of a skewer, then grilled. Full of exotic flavors, they’re simple to make and always a popular choice.
Try our recipe for spicy chicken satay with a peanut dipping sauce. And cool off with a plate of fresh, sliced cucumbers on the side!
Throughout the streets of Rio, Sao Paulo and other Brazilian cities you’ll find espetinho, which in Portuguese means ‘little skewer.’ All over town, vendors sell them at charcoal grills, with the most common varieties being spiced beef or chicken.
But really, anything that will fit on a skewer may be found: sausages, hot dogs, shrimp, cubes of fish, and a non-melting cheese are all available.
Vendors will usually have some variety of hot sauce on hand to add a little spice, and farinha is a popular topping – a crunchy, gritty manioc flour that Brazilians enjoy sprinkled on top of a variety of meats.
Mexican Elote Antojitos
Along with skewers of meat, have a selection of vegetables available to follow the salads.
In Jamaica, jerk recipes are closely guarded and with good reason – there’s nothing better than the taste of a butterflied chicken fresh from the jerk hut.
Jerking refers to poking or slashing the meat to absorb the flavors of the jerk – the dry rub spices or wet marinade used to flavor the meat. And it refers to the cooking process as well.
Traditional jerked chicken, or other meats like pork and beef, were cooked over an open pit or a rigged oil barrel halved lengthwise.
Today, a steel drum jerk pan is the method of choice for smoking jerk-style, with the native pimento wood adding its distinctive, smoky taste.
Not to worry if you don’t have access to fresh supplies of green pimento wood. Pimento chips and sticks are now readily available online through Amazon and other sources, so you can try out our sizzling and succulent Jamaican jerk chicken wings. But regular charcoal will also do just fine for grilling these.
American Pulled Pork
We know that good barbeque is serious business in different regions of the US, where yearly competitions and cook-offs find dedicated cooks creating sublime, smoky delicacies.
And while Texas may be the place to find the ultimate slow-cooked brisket, North Carolina is home to smoky-sweet pulled pork, slathered with a rich BBQ sauce and piled high onto a sandwich.
Pulled pork can be cooked in the oven or slow cooker, but for authentic flavor, low and slow on the grill is the way to go.
A much simpler bunwich than pulled pork, roasted sausage sandwiches are a staple of South American street food.
The Argentine choripan is simplicity itself: a grilled beef-and-pork sausage, split lengthwise and placed on a crusty roll which is then topped with a garlicky chimichurri sauce.
An absolutely heavenly sandwich of Greek influence that can be found in cafés and sidewalk stands all over Europe, gyros are traditionally made with roasted lamb but can be made with chicken or beef as well.
Heat pita pockets on the grill and wrap the lamb with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, creamy tzatziki and feta cheese – one bite and you’ll understand what made Zorba want to dance so much.
What better way to finish off an international meal than with a bowl of rich, homemade gelato?
Pull out the ice cream maker and try a classic flavor like pistachio, or raspberry sorbetto – a cool and refreshing end to your meal.
A popular end-of-night snack, churros are sweet and crispy sticks of dough, deep fried, then rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Serve warm with a luxurious hot chocolate sauce for dunking, and a fresh pot of full bodied coffee.
Fun and Funky Eats!
And there you have 11 fun and funky street food ideas for any party this summer.
The ideal food for a casual get together, selections of street foods serve up equally well with an icy cold beer or a glass of wine – the perfect combo for mingling with old and new friends alike.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.