Mediterranean Street Food: Stories, Soups, Snacks, Sandwiches, Barbecues, Sweets, and More, from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East


Who can resist a chickpea fritter in Nice, a kebab in Athens, an aniseed cookie in Tuscany, hummus in Tel Aviv, stuffed zucchini in Genoa, or a potato omelet in Spain? Cold or hot, sweet or savory, street food is everyone's temptation.

Anissa Helou loves street food. When she travels, she stops at every tea cart, sandwich stand, and candy stall to trade stories with local vendors and learn the recipes that tempt the crowds. Join her on a fascinating adventure around the ...

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Who can resist a chickpea fritter in Nice, a kebab in Athens, an aniseed cookie in Tuscany, hummus in Tel Aviv, stuffed zucchini in Genoa, or a potato omelet in Spain? Cold or hot, sweet or savory, street food is everyone's temptation.

Anissa Helou loves street food. When she travels, she stops at every tea cart, sandwich stand, and candy stall to trade stories with local vendors and learn the recipes that tempt the crowds. Join her on a fascinating adventure around the Mediterranean, where eating on the street is a way of life. Learn the secret ingredients to the perfect Stuffed Mussels sold on the streets of Istanbul. Come along to a Berber woman's Moroccan Bread stall in Marrakech. Buy a sweet, sticky Semolina Cake from a cart in Cairo. From simple salads to fragrant barbecues to irresistible dips and drinks, each dish can be enjoyed on its own, or two or three may be combined to make a meal. With lively black-and-white photographs from Anissa's travels and more than eighty-five fast, flexible, flavorful recipes, Mediterranean Street Food offers home cooks the chance to experience the tastes of distant lands without leaving the kitchen.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
As a child in Beirut, Anissa Helou unsuccessfully begged her mother for permission to sample the delicious-smelling food from the street vendors. As an adult, she finally got her wish by tasting street food from all over the Mediterranean. From the tagines of Morocco to the sesame galettes of Greece and the kebabs of Turkey, Helou explores an exotic culinary world that is centuries old and provides all the essentials to bring the magic into your kitchen.

Contemporary Mediterranean street food still follows the traditions and divisions of the ancient world, says Helou: western (Spain, France, and Italy); eastern, or Levantine (Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel); and southern (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco). The western region relies less on street foods but still honors the tradition of food delivered quickly, whether at caf&eactue;s, tapas bars, or panini bars. Turn to the eastern and southern regions, however, and you will find a vibrant street food scene, with Turkey and Morocco in the forefront.

The chapters in Mediterranean Street Food are divided by type of food or main ingredient: soups; snacks, salads, dips; pizza and breads; barbecues; one-pot meals, sweets; and drinks. In addition to the standard street fare (grilled meats and hummous dip), Helou introduces us to the exotic: fried bread from North Africa, chickpea snacks from Genoa, and clotted cream fritters from Lebanon. All recipes have been adapted for American kitchens. For armchair or would-be travelers, there are wonderful photos and stories, as well as some tips on hygiene (bring your own cutlery!). (Ginger Curwen)

Publishers Weekly
This quirky cookbook features both tasty snacks and more substantial meals, all of them available on the streets of Italy, Turkey and other Mediterranean countries. Helou (CafE Morocco) is a friendly, inquisitive guide who's not afraid to express her own occasional squeamishness about eating on the street, especially in places like Cairo, where diners are expected to use the same spoons, cleaned only with a dunk in questionable water. A fascinating introduction shows a keen understanding of the entire region (Helou herself grew up in Beirut and fondly remembers the Corniche, an area filled with vendors of snacks, sweets and drinks). Recipes are organized by type of food (e.g., soups and sandwiches), and Helou provides a simple formula for arranging them into a traditional meal. Snacks include Farinata, a chickpea flour pancake from Genoa, and Stuffed Mussels from Istanbul, which are filled with rice and then steamed. A chapter on breads and pastries offers Lebanese Thyme Bread and Ramadan Bread with Dates. A few dishes, such as Greek Octopus and Onion Stew, sound like unlikely, albeit delicious, candidates for the eat-and-walk formula. A few more most notably a french fry sandwich from Beirut are just too strange to catch on. But on balance, this covers just the kind of food for which it is often near-impossible to locate a recipe. Desserts (Walnut Pancakes) and drinks (fermented Bulgur Drink) round out this solid collection of both curiosities and serious dining. (July) Forecast: This traveler's notebook of tasty snacks is interesting on both the sociological and culinary levels, and these days, anything with the word Mediterranean in the title sells this will be no exception. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060195960
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/2/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Anissa Helou is a writer, journalist, and broadcaster. Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, she knows the Mediterranean as only a well-traveled native can. Lebanese Cuisine, her first book, was nominated for the prestigious Andre Simon Award and was named one of the best cookbooks of 1998 by the Los Angeles Times. Mediterranean Street Food was described by the New York Times as "a marvelous book." It won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2002 as the best Mediterranean cuisine book in English. Helou lives in London, where she has her own cooking school, Anissa's School. She appears frequently on British television and radio. She has written many articles for the Weekend Financial Times, and has contributed to several other publications including Gourmet, the Chicago Tribune, and the Washington Post. An accomplished photographer and intrepid traveler, Helou is fluent in French and Arabic as well as English.

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JERUSALEM MIX -- Morav Yorushalmi
Makes 4 sandwiches

Jerusalem mix is sold in sandwiches or served on a plate with pita bread and a small mezze of chili and tahini sauces, French fries, and pickles. The stalls stay open until very late at night so people can stop by on their way home after an evening out on the town. I give the authentic recipe here because it is so typical of Israeli street food, but you can make your own mixture of different meats, as long as the texture of the cuts you choose is similar to the ones you are replacing.

1 chicken breast
6-7 chicken hearts
4 chicken livers
3-4 lamb's kidneys
6 ounces rump steak
2 lamb's testicles
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground sumac
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
freshly ground black pepper
4 pita bread ovals
onion and parsley salad
pickled hot chilies

  1. Cut the different meats into bite-sized cubes and put in a large mixing bowl. Add the onions garlic, oil, spices, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Let marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Place a large frying pan over high heat. When it is hot, place the meat mixture in the pan. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until done to your liking.
  3. Open the pitas at the seam, halfway down, and fill with equal quantities of meat. Top with onion and parsley salad and serve immediately with pickled hot chilies.
ONION AND PARSLEY SALAD -- Salatat Baqduness wa Bassal
Serves 4

This salad is common throughout the eastern and southern Mediterranean from Turkey to Egypt. It is always laid on the bread on which grilled meat and poultry are served. In Turkey the salad is seasoned with only sumac; in Egypt, with lemon juice, and in Syria, Lebanon, and Israel it is seasoned with both. A friend of mine, Sami Tamimi, whose recipe this is, taught me to soak the sliced onions in boiling water for a few minutes before using. This softens them slightly and, more significantly, takes away some of the sharpness. Be sure to dry the onions well before adding the seasonings.
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons ground sumac
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Soak the onions in 2 cups hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and spread to dry on paper towels. Transfer the onions to a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary and serve with any of the barbecues [in the book].

SICILIAN ALMOND ICE CREAM -- Granita di Mandorle
Makes 5-6 cups

Sicilians often have their ice cream sandwiched inside a brioche -- a strange but fun way of serving it and just as good, if not better, as inside a cone. Once you have made [or bought] the brioche, cut each open across the middle without detaching the two halves and fill the inside with as much ice cream as is manageable. Serve as if it were a sandwich. You will have to eat it double-quick or else you will look like a toddler who has had a few mouthfuls of ice cream. You can vary the nuts here by using pistachios, hazelnuts, or any other you prefer.

3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 quart whole milk
1-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups blanched almonds, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, then dried and ground very fine (about 1 cup)

  1. Using a whisk, dissolve the cornstarch, in about 1/2 cup milk and set aside. Put the rest of the milk in a saucepan. place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Add the sugar and return to the heat, whisking until the milk is back to boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside. Stir occasionally to dissolve the skin.
  2. Once the milk has cooled completely, stir in the ground almonds and either freeze in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer's instructions or put in a freezer container and freeze, whisking the mixture every hour or so for about 6 hours, or until the ice cream is the right consistency. Serve plain or inside brioches.
Copyright © 2002 by Anissa Helou.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2002

    Wonderful cookbook!!

    These is the real mediterranean street food! I love it!

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