The shiny pink Falooda I am eating took me to Baloch Ice Cream in Karachi, Pakistan. In fact, I’m parked outside of Auntie’s Chai, one of my favorite desi spots in Toronto. Under normal circumstances, I would be sitting inside the cafe, but enjoying a cold dessert in the car is actually more authentic. In this way it often comes back home.
Each slurry is a cool and sweet mouthful of rose-flavored almond milk, basil seeds, bright green pistachios and vermicelli. Popular in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, Faloda has Persian roots, and what I am used to was remodeled by the Mughal Empire. I already discovered this when I did a little dive into the history of the dish in anticipation of my Pakistani street-food crawl – one of my recent theme local travel adventures.
For the past few months, I have seen people crawling food on wheels on Instagram. They wait for the menu to be online for the week, drool over the posts teasing the foods on offer, and scramble to order from restaurants and pop-ups before selling the dishes. Then at weekends, they pick up food and dine on it in their cars. In Canada, eating out like this can be a sign of the times, but in Karachi it is a tradition and something I am doing.
Pull up most of the food spots in that city, and you will find an efficient system for food to the car. Servers fetch menus, take orders and then distribute food on colored trays in a rolled-down window. This is partly due to the heat and humidity (people tend to stay in their air-conditioned cars), partly because many of the best spots serve as holes in trains, stalls or walls, and partly for social reasons. Despite this, it is a large part of the city’s local food culture.
In need of some thrill, I decided to put a spin on this tradition and use it as a vehicle for travel – both mentally and physically – during the epidemic. Every week, I would do a huge food crawl around an international destination, then drive to enjoy the cuisine from several restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area, all to savor the comfort of my car. If you’re interested in trying it out, here’s how I tell you about it.
Start by planning your adventure as you will take a regular vacation. Choose the region, country or city you want to visit. So far, I have taken my taste buds back to Karachi’s mouthwater clam – Falouda, with a paratha roll of Karachi Kababies, and Chicken Tikka Buns of Little Sister Baking – and Islands of Sicily courtesy of Sweet Cultura, Stock TC and Futura Visited Granita + Gello. Next I will explore countries along the Levant coastline due to spots such as Zevafoun Syrian food, Nablus Creamy and Kunafa.
Next, spend a few days to learn about the destination. This is my favorite part. Researches what locals eat and how they enjoy their food. I did not know that almonds are often eaten at breakfast in Sicily. I also discovered that elements of Sicilian food have Arab roots, which took me on a different journey than expected. with Engage allah trepney And arncini, i saw Piacentineu Anies, A sheep’s milk cheese infused with saffron and peppercorns.
Briefly learn how each dish is made from one place to another, from local ingredients, traditions and history – what you can learn if you are really traveling. Immerse yourself in the destination as much as possible. I spend weeks digging through old National Geographic Traveler issues, watching movies and food documentaries and listening to playlists on Spotify from the country in question. All this helps you appreciate the delicious food that comes your way.
Finally, it is time to find your restaurant, and this is where research comes in handy. Some dishes will offer more options than others. To narrow things down, I look for restaurants whose owners are bringing their stories to life with food.
Choose one or two spots for appetizers, a pair for main courses, and a few different spots for dessert somewhere. I also visit stores or pantries specializing in goods from destination to food monuments. If possible, plan an adventure with a loved one and share a meal along the way – this way, you discover more. Don’t forget to bring reusable cutlery and napkins.
While a car may not embody images of distant corners of the world, I have enjoyed the novelty of bringing this tradition back from home. To add a bit of ambiance, I spread essential oils in my car and play music wherever my taste buds get lucky. As the weather warms up, it is also possible to do this crawl as a picnic. It is really about your imagination and how you make it an experience in yourself.
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