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Maxwell Street This Morning


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Maxwell Street This Morning

David Hammond | May 18, 2003 04:16 PM

My goal this morning was to photo-document every single food concession at Maxwell (Canal) street. En route to that goal:

I bought a big cup of the goat consommé that Mumon had referenced; it was a very good way to start the day (especially after sucking down more than I should have at Yum Thai last night). They had a meat version, but I went with just liquid, garnished with onion slivers and cilantro. On a morning that still had a slight chill in the air, this bracing broth was more warming and sustaining than a cup of Joe could ever be.

I was concerned about “downhill alerts” concerning of the Salvadorian pupusa place, so I stopped in. I asked for cheese, and watched the nice lady push a wad of queso into a fistful of masa, roll it out and start griddling. As the pupusa was in the works, a city inspector came by. He asked if they had water and a fire extinguisher. They did. As he was leaving I said hi and asked if he had to inspect every stand. He said he did, but that fortunately this one “did not serve meat,” so it was “fast and easy.” As he left, I reflected that perhaps the city Health Department does not consider chicharones to be “meat,” as that is clearly one of the selections at this stand. Any how, the fresh pupusa, served with a pickled cabbage, was as good as I’ve ever had. I noticed, though, that the chicharones pupusas were pre-made and sitting in foil, so my guess is that if you had one of those, it may not be as fluffy and fresh tasting.

After a palate cleansing horchata, it was onward to the entrée.

No stop at Maxwell is complete (at least for me) without an Oaxacan tamal, or two, or in today’s case, three: chicken, pork spicy, and pork not spicy. I love this stuff. It’s like an ideal sandwich to me. What I dislike most about bread sandwiches is that they can be dry; tamales, in which moist hunks of meat are nestled within even moister folds of corn cushioning, are so overall appealing that it’s hard to stop at three. I did notice that the Salvadorian pupusa place had tamales, and I will try them the next time I’m there (they were rounder, smaller and whiter than the Oaxacan variety – and they were stuffed with a whitish meat that was probably chicken).

Good news: the churros stand is open and very popular. If I had not been on the verge of passing out from tamale overload, I would have stopped in for a fried stick. No point in getting one to bring home; these babies have to be eaten hot from the oil.

Bad(ish) news: it was amazing to me that the two concessions with the longest lines were for “funnel cakes” and “hot dogs/polish” -- not that these would normally be bad choices in and of themselves, but on this street of Hispanic food dreams, it seems a waste of stomach space to fill up on foods you can get at many street fairs.

I succeeded in photo-documenting every concession on the street (though I drew the line at places that might be selling detergent, power tools and a few cases of Doritos that fell off a truck).

This is a mutable market; concessions come and go, so I’m glad I have some kind of reference for what was going down on Maxwell Street this morning.

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