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Mali, February 18, 2005

Always Eat on the Street

The best cooking is always streetside

looks good
Open air cooking
tastes beter
Three bowls happy
nice decour
A swank stop
Oh am I hungry. Its been hours, seemingly days, since a good meal and I need one now. Not content to wait the usual two hours for 'fast food', there is only one option for me. There is only on way I can eat quickly in Mali: street food. Yes, what your mother warned you about is my best option to eat good, cheap, and fast.

And I have to say it is good, it is cheap, and it is fast. Probably and arguably the best food in Mali, in Africa, worldwide even, is street food. From Russia, to China, to Africa, I love street food. First it is always fast, for if it wasn't, it would be in a restaurant. Then it is always cheap, for it never has restaurant overhead. Last but not least it is always good.

Not only do you see every ingredient, you can watch exactly how each dish is prepared and can even direct the cooking if you're good in the local language. Oh and for those that worry it might not be clean or healthy, unlike the swank expensive hotel, a street food vendor has much reputation riding on his or her meal. In China and India, a street vendor can be legally beaten to death for making someone ill. I'm not sure about Mali, but I expect it similar. In this way alone, street food is so much better over here.

Still the proof is in the pudding, or in Mali's case, the salad. It might be sparse, with just lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, but damn are Malian salads good. With the freshest ingredients, and tomatoes that rock, salads here are better than any stateside.

So is the fish, caught locally and the beef slaughtered next door. The chicken might be shipped here and there, but I doubt it, No, in Mali, all is produced locally and shipped around the block, not around the country.

And street food is cheap. A full belly-busting meal of salad, fish, rice, and plantains is around one dollar. Breakfast of an omelet on baguette sandwich is less than twenty cents. Now if I could only get a beer with my meal, and not have to drink by Braille, I would only eat street food.

Still, the beer draws me into real restaurants, there are a few that serve beer, and then I have the wait. Even speedy restaurants here take at least an hour or two to prepare dinner. My theory: They go buy the ingredients after I sit down and order. My rule: Always eat on the street.

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Is the fish grilled or fried? If fried, what type of oil is in those utensils? Are all the street vendors women? What is the cooking fuel used in Mali? The food in the photo looks appetizing, and you look happy.

Almost all the street vendors are women, and they use vegetable oil to fry the fish over little charcol cookers.we66fg

Thanx Wayan,
To be honest with you Wayan,even the expensive food from expensive restaurants is never clean because you just find it on a plate but you have not seen how it was prepared,ok?Then talk about people!I mean people God created that have hair on their heads!!!People are funny!He can be educated or what,but when it comes to personal hygein,Hmm!God knows for sure.Some do not wash their hands when from toilets and imediately pretends tp be busy serving food.And remember you were not there in toilet to see what she's been up to if this person is a lady and maybe her 'time'was due to face the biological stuff!Oh my!Think about that! Then honey,your food is brought to you accompanied by the huge bill that you're to settle with a broad smile on your face because the food was 'clean'!Clean?In which sense?Clean because you have not seen the way it was being prepared,but just seeing the place looking good you just assume that everything .....
Man,when it comes to street food,I support you.These plates we eat from are never washed in clean water.And when it's a place where you can't reach,they do anything provided you won't see them.
I better smile to the street lady who is a little bit careful because if she does nasty things,people won't eat her food because they see what she's doing.I love the the ingredients they use to make the fish stew.People who have never travelled to Africa talk what they imagine!But the experience you have Wayan,you know what you are talking about and what really Africa is.
I might not have icecream in Africa,but you will never compare the yoghurt made there with anything in your refridgirators.That's why you guys use sugar,sugar,sugar.When you use it,you really don't get the real taste of something.But you have to, because the milk there is totally different from that of Africa where cows are grazed on NATURAL grass. Grass meant for the cows.So you resort to using sugar to get the taste.
You are invited back to Africa,you'll be informed when.All you have to do is to let me know when you have a long holiday,and then have the real fun that gives those people down there a natural smile not a plastic one that I usually see.All your travel expenses will be covered,do not worry.Promise.
Just keep in touch.
The sky is the limit.

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