Street food and eating together at sunset are the heart and soul of Sri Lanka

Food and friendship go together in Sri Lanka. The one is enriched by the other, especially just before the sun pauses before plunging below the horizon.

Says foodie blog Life & Thyme: “This time of day has a strange electricity to it in Sri Lanka, summoning the evening hours with the sudden eruption of street food and small gatherings of friends.

“At five o’clock, locals descend upon the country’s countless hopper stands. Visitors seeking this iconic Sri Lankan snack during the day will be met with a friendly shake of the head, as locals point to their wrists and say, “5 o’clock.”

“And, just like clockwork, the small, glassy hopper counters that line the streets suddenly grind into action when that magic hour arrives.”

Warm, generous and vibrant

As writer Meg Abbott notes, “Sri Lanka’s people have a lot in common with their cuisine. They’re warm, generous and vibrant. They bring with them the promise of comfort and restoration. Food comes at every turn, offered by grinning vendors, busy cooks, and stall owners displaying their goods like precious gems.

“From the ethereal coastlines and fishing villages to the heady cities and scorching towns, Sri Lanka’s culinary landscape exists outside on the street. Centuries of Malaysian, Portuguese, Dutch, English and Arabic influence has marked the heritage of Sri Lanka’s cuisine.”

Outdoor market the heart and soul

In Sri Lanka’s villages and towns, the outdoor market is the heart and soul. “Locals visit these intoxicating food markets two or three times a day, plucking up produce to create their meals, which are made up of several small dishes and are always shared.

“Sri Lankans put freshness above all else, visiting the market to pick up coconuts just fallen from the trees, or fish that still glisten with salt water. Market vendors take pride in their stalls, sorting their heaving piles of produce by color. To visit a Sri Lankan marketplace is to feast on the country’s rich tapestry of fruit, vegetables and spices born from scorching dry seasons and dramatic monsoons.”

A dreamlike medley of fruit and veg

The dreamlike foods are laid out, sprawling across the ground in wooden crates or canvas sacks. Sri Lanka’s bewildering medley of fruits and vegetables is more vivid and sundrenched than you will ever see again: lilac eggplants streaked with crayon lines of white, nutty purple mangosteen, jade-colored runner beans, peachy pumpkins, vanilla-scented red bananas, and miniature watermelons that fit in the palm of your hand.

And at every turn, the rickety street food stands are there to nourish you, restore you, refresh you, or just remind you that you could be nowhere else on earth but the Spice Island.

Read more here.

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