Street Food in Syria
By Ghaythaa Deeb
Co-founder of IFbooks 15. 5 . 2016
“ Tamari cakes O O O Razak Kareem “ was a vendor’s yell that attracted me while I was walking in one of Damascus markets to taste this desert for the first time , I couldn’t take my eyes off the vendor while he was putting tamari on the surface of the glass box in an acrobatic movement and in a very professional manner then sprinkle sesame , tahini, sugar, grape molasses, the final touch was a small cake to adjust a little the sweetness of Tamari taste (recently slices of banana added for this meal) .
Tamari Cakes often sold in winter days where peddlers wander with their bicycles of the back glass boxes where sesame cans, sugar, grape molasses and stacks of fried chips dough called Tamri (similar to French crepes) can be seen as a mini food carnival . Street food isn’t something new but vendors with their decorated carts always arouse my curiosity by their simplicity , their welcoming faces and the cute phrases they invented to attract customers and promote their food items apart from the delicious smell that makes you fly to taste it . This food won’t cost you a lot of money , always available, and you don’t have to follow certain etiquette 😉 . In Damascus, as in many Syrian cities the food items of these carts vary according to the season of the year , the most crowded season for street food is in the month of Ramadan where colored mobile carts lined up to sell delicious and wide range of food items which consist with the vendors yells a unique orchestra ( you shouldn’t miss attending this event ) Amar al Din , Sahlab & Erk Sous are the most popular traditional drinks during this month .
Actually I cannot describe my feeling when I stop at one of street carts that selling , for example , fuul nabit (broad beans ) with huge pots placed on a hidden source of heat, only vapors from boiling hot water is what you can see , fuul cooked in a very hot boiling water to become tender and keeps the taste . Fuul nabit served hot in a small bowl and a cup of beans water , sumac, salt , cumin , lemon juice and sometimes some additions as per customer’s request , other street carts selling corn (either boiled or as a salad ) or carts of chickpeas ( called balila ) that boiled with cumin .Many people gather around these carts which spreads in Damascus markets and streets especially in the evening , grilled corn , roasted peanuts and sunflower seeds are very popular in Mount Qasioun that is the lovers favorite place , from which the whole city of Damascus can be viewed and where you can enjoy the calm , forget about life’s pressure and be near God Himself as it was believed for years , of course this romantic atmosphere won’t be completed without eating roasted nuts .
Some of street food only sold in the summer, such as awja ,jarnk , prickly pears of red or yellow colors and some of handmade natural juice with ice cubes as blueberry , and tamarind . The marketing campaigns depend on vendors own voices or writings one of the funny phrases I’ve read on a cart ” We have no other branches 😀 ” & ” Please be careful of imitation products ” . When you are traveling between cities or heading to the countryside in Syria , street food won’t be available but you will meet with road food 🙂 one of the most famous and favorite food for travelers is manakish that consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese , pepper paste , or ground meat , what is distinguished about this food is being cooked in a Tandoori clay ovens even before you start eating , watching food preparation will fill you with happiness .
Now tell us about your experience with street food , do you like the idea ?