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Saturday, December 4, 2010


I walk down a side street looking for some street food for lunch. I find a section lined with food stalls - people selling everything from fried noodles to fruit on a stick to stinky tofu. I notice one stall selling crunchy waffles rolled up tight & cut into pieces big enough to eat with your hands.

A man is sitting in front of a make-shift grill - a metal box filled with burning hot coals. He's working three waffle irons. They look heavy. He has a rhythm going. He dips a ladel into a large bucket at his feet & pours some waffle batter into the first iron. He moves the iron down one spot, flips the second iron over & shifts it down too. He takes the third iron off the fire, opens it & removes the piping hot waffle with his bare hands. He tosses it onto the table next to him, moves the third iron back to the first position & ladels more waffle batter on. Repeat.

Meanwhile, a woman is sitting at the table. She takes the finished waffle & rolls it up before it can cool. She puts it into a cutter & lowers the lever - three hand-sized waffle rolls come out & she tosses them into a bin. Customers reach into the bin & select their waffles. They throw coins into a tin resting on the table. The woman has no time to count out change - fresh waffles keep coming down the production line.

I stand & watch the process for about five minutes, then walk on down the street to a noodle vendor. I sit & eat my noodles surrounded by chattering people on their lunch break. A half hour later, I return the way I came. The waffle man is still moving waffle irons back & forth. The woman is still rolling & cutting, trying to keep up with demand.


scott said...

Wha? You need to march back there and try one of those waffles!! And report back. This is an unfinished blog post! ;-)

Nancy Lewis said...

I'll wait for you to visit me in Shanghai & then we can go together :)

Chris said...

iirc, these are referred to as egg rolls! But I agree, they are more similar in flavor and cooking method to waffles! And so good! This is a perfect example of vital street food -- they taste just about worthless after an hour (or when prefabbed), but are heavenly while still warm!

Nancy Lewis said...

Can you get these in Hong Kong, Chris? By the way, every time I get a waft of stinky tofu, I think of you :)

scott said...

Haha, well now, I guess you have been kind enough to extend the window another 6 months I should!