Posted by Rob & Lauren on March 5, 2010
One of our favourite parts about travelling is sampling the local street food. Edmonton has nothing, other than hot dogs. And suprisingly, that gets boring after a little while! But oooooh the street food that we’ve encountered during our travels! Phad Thai in Bangkok, chai in Kolkata, and now shaved ice in Iquitos!
We were strolling along on a photo walk when we came across this gentleman hard at work serving shaved ice to tons of locals. I stopped and watched him for a while. Being Western definitely gets you noticed here, so he took interest in us, and actually started to explain all the different flavours he had!! I picked up on a couple names, but being all in Spanish, I mostly just nodded politely and enjoyed hearing him talk.
He had me convinced, so I asked him to make me one. He was pretty confused, assuming that we would just continue on our way! Another guy, who spoke English, and understood that I was trying to order one, conveyed that to the vendor, and he got a big smile across his face, and started to make one!
In Iquitos they don’t need those fancy automatic ice shavers. I mean, what more do you need than a block of ice and a blade? He first clamped it down.
Then spun the wheel really fast! You can see the block just whipping around in there, and all that delicious shaved ice falling into the bowl.
Then came the tricky processes of choosing a flavour in a language I don’t speak. I did know how to say “Naranja” which means orange, so I went with that. Lucky for me, he didn’t think that was quite enough, so he’d pick up a bottle to suggest I have that as well, and I just happily said “Si!” to everything he offered. When in doubt, just let the locals guide you! Here he is putting some of that insanely delicious syrup on there. I can pretty much guarantee this stuff isn’t made in some huge factory, but rather is home-made. It was incredible.
If you’re ever in Iquitos, make sure to visit Gorrion!
It was truly the best shaved ice I’ve ever had. We each took a sip and honestly exclaimed outloud “WOW!”. Shaved ice just doesn’t taste that good back home, where it’s all watery and weak. This had punch! Drew and I only had a little bit, since this was unfiltered water. Rob, on the other hand, finished the entire thing! And was fine. By the end of the trip he had certainly proven that he has a truly cast iron stomach.
Our street food philsophy? Try it. Even if it’s just a bite. We don’t want to make ourselves sick, but we don’t want to miss out on a truly authentic experience. Eat where the locals eat, eat what they eat, and whenever possible, eat alongside them. Those memories will stand far above that trip to McDonalds, even if you were seriously craving a Big Mac :)
What’s your favourite street cuisine experience?