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Cape Town - From Scotch eggs, pork pies and custard tarts to the plethora of American street foods and the cultures it draws on, British pieman Andy Bates has wrapped a series that took him across the US.
Bates and Nick Thorogood, vice president of Scripps Networks Interactive which owns the Food Network, visited the Mother City recently to launch the series Andy Bates’ American Street Feasts.
For the first series, Bates went around the UK exploring street food. Then he took on the US.
“The home of street food is America. We let him loose on the States,” says Thorogood.
Chefs are getting out of the restaurants, he says, and cooking affordable, quality food in the street, food that tastes like someone’s mom made it.
Bates reminisces about his favourite American street dish – soft shell crab and pork belly. He describes the dish as “homegrown and amazing”. As for his worst, he wasn’t too fond of fried chicken.
“This was a road trip that started in New York and finished in Seattle, taking over three months,” he says. He cooked on the streets himself, including at places like the French Quarter of New Orleans.
“Every state is like a different country. Miami is very hot. I ate key lime pie for three days there.”
The episodes are half an hour long and feature three street vendors each.
Bates says his journey taught him that restaurant quality food can be found on the street. Even meat was of good quality. “The food vendors are well sourced.”
Battling with five years of recession, many newly jobless Americans have launched themselves at the entrepeneurship of street food.
An intriguing highlight of the series is in the episode filmed in Austin, Texas, where he interviews Iba Thaim who cooks Yasser Chicken (from West Africa) served as a bunny chow.
The dish blends two different African food concepts in the American west.
Americans are known for big dishes but Bates says his portions were not too big.
“To find inspiration, I sat in the car. You have that time on a roadtrip.”
In San Francisco, he found a “deconstructed samoosa” from the Curry Up Now food truck, run by Akash and Rana Kapoor. It is basically a samoosa put on a plate and then flattened. Bates illustrates with his fist.
“As a Brit, I know my curry. Akash comes from India. It was so nice to talk to someone about cricket and curry in America.”
American Street Feasts is expected to air on Food Network early next year. - Weekend Argus
* See www.foodnetworktv.com and follow Bates on Twitter with the handle @eatmypies