Certain vehicles signal food, and certain ones do not. A formula one race car might be the farthest from eating, signalling instead an immediate relation to speed and anything else as fun as going that fast, something like sex.

However, other vehicles seem to be made for food, or in this case made for food, hauling, kidnapping, and sex. Enter the van.

This article deals specifically with happy vans doing happy things. This will be the only mention of the nasty and not fun, all white, no windows, serial killer van. It is occasionally known as the child molestor van. I am not an afficiando, but it seems that these are synonymous, and white. Kidnappers use black vans with no windows.

Ever since the popularity boom of the van in the 60’s, it seemed like a perfect vehicle to drive around and sell people food. Mostly, this is a minor homage to the vehicle that has brought me some of the best, most random, and regionally quintessential things I’ve eaten. It is a vehicle of aesthetics and utility, as evidenced by it’s ability to carry both Mr. T and food for the homeless.

One can usually gauge a region’s staple street fair when a mass of vans are parked and selling to long lines. Any Italian festival in Manhattan or Williamsburg will always have sausage and peppers, a random festival in Kansas City will always have barbecue, and when I hit the Southwest then I find tamales and tacos to end all others.

So it was a pleasure to see my favorite food vehicle represented in Mumbai. The fare from these two fine gentlemen today is roasted and spiced nuts.

– Recipe –

Roasted Nuts and Garam Masala

/ nuts / spices / occasionally egg whites / garam masala /

Garam Masala –

Masala is a word for spice in general and a specific spice, much like thali is both a word for plate in general and a meal that is many small portions served on a plate.

One specific garam recipe is:

/ cumin seed / coriander seed / cardamom seed / black peppercorn / cinnamon stick / whole clove / whole nutmeg / saffron /

The quantities are basically equal with a little less on the clove and nutmeg and even less on the saffron. Toast the spices over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Indians love to cook over very low heat for epically long amounts of time. Grind the spices together in a spice mill or an old coffee grinder that you won’t be using for coffee anymore.

Roasted Nuts –

This is slightly more of a guideline than a specific recipe. Almost all nuts will have a more significant flavor when roasted. Pine nuts being mentioned in a recipe will almost certainly mean roasting them for a moment to release the oils in them.

If the nut is large and you want it sliced, boil it first for a few minutes and then slice it. However, please note that this can truly be a significant pain in the ass.

Some options for the chunky roasted nuts at fairs across the world is to make an egg wash with only egg whites and add whatever you like to it. Sugar is a good start, then move to spices, many people like cinnamon.

For a more Indian bend, add garam masala.

Simply bake for half an hour on medium heat and you are ready to go.

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  • monica

    I have started using some of your recipe suggestions. They are simple and personal, thankyou.

  • nick

    Thanks Monica. I want people to be able to use the recipe attached to the story, or the story attached to the recipe. Let me know if there’s something you’d like to see on the site.

  • http://n/a Joseph

    My friend, Matt, had this super cool Ford Ranger that looked like a Tonka truck I had when I was smaller than I am now. We would take the Ranger down muddy roads and put it in four wheel drive. After the Ranger was no more…may it rest in peace…Matt got

    a van.

    It was cherry red. No windows in the back. Probably used by a carpet installer or some tradesman. I hated it, really. No four wheel drive. No muddy roads. Just endless jokes about smuggling opportunities. But little did I realize that the van is quite an amazing vehicle unaffected by the slightest whims of a man and capable of transforming undesirable objects into desirable ones. Matt and I loaded our unwanted clothes and house wares into the back of the cherry red van for a trip to the Salvo’s, which didn’t really happen that day probably because it was nice and we played frisbee instead. You enjoy the sun in Chicago when it comes out unannounced all of, what, two times a year? Anyway, months later, as things go, I decided that…wait, I really don’t want to get rid of those shoes after all. Now if Matt had purchased some other vehicle that didn’t have a walk in closet in the back then the “unwanted” Salvo’s items wouldn’t have been waiting there for me.

    Alas, I warmed up to the undesirable cherry red van. You just wait, that thing that you don’t really like might come around. Then again, it might just get worse and worse, but who’s to say, really, besides Father Time himself?

  • nick

    The van. Holding fast to make sure we keep what we want and what we don’t want. To making sure we eat what we want and don’t need. Father Time has made his say about the van.