In Scotland, we only do extreme street food.
It wouldn’t be an outdoor market without a bit of Wim Hof method cold immersion chucked in the mix.
Of course, it’s pouring with rain when I’m one of the first to visit The Neighbourgood Market, which is on the Edinburgh Accies Sports Ground, just behind the Raeburn Hotel. It’ll be running until July 17, from Wednesday to Sunday, noon until 9pm, so hopefully the sun gods will smile on us for at least one day in the next two months.
If they don’t, there’s cover provided by two tarpaulins, which shelter picnic-tables or oil drums and stools in a drinking area. Very sensible.
As the clouds draw in, and the rugby players slide through the mud in the other half of the field, we watch the Edinburgh Gin branded deck chairs, which are positioned on the grass, fill up with water. This event’s white circles on the grass are still evident, though appear to be slowly washing away. They were used in previous years, as part of Covid’s social distancing measures.
For 2022, things are a bit more normal. There are familiar sellers, like the event's partners, Innis & Gunn, The Peruvian, Shrimpwreck, Pizza Geeks and Mimi’s, who have heavily iced Jammie Dodger or Sticky Toffee cupcakes behind their rain-splattered van window.
There are also a few new vendors, like The MacMan, who offers the suitable-for-the-weather mac ‘n’ cheese. From the side of his custard-coloured van, he serves varieties including Posh Mac, with truffle oil, Haggis, or the Spicy Wan, all coming in at around the £7 or £8 mark. There’s also Lemon Squeezy, in the colours of the Scooby-Doo mobile. You’ll find it sandwiched between a bright pink vintage fashion stall and a horsebox selling flatbreads. I’m told they do a mean sea bass ciabatta.
However, we’re most intrigued by the dark blue Kochchi Sri Lankan street food box, whose logo is a raksha mask. It’s run by two Glaswegians, Shehan and Suki, who expertly mix their signature kotthu curry on a griddle using two blades. This dish consists of chopped flat bread, seared vegetables and a curry sauce, and there are chicken, vegetable, cheese and cauliflower versions available. I go for the chicken version, and it’s fragrant, limey and easy to eat without spilling it down your front. Perfect comfort food.
We also order a salty and smoky portion of The Peruvian’s lomo saltado, which easily feeds two, and features charred steak strips, red onion, tomatoes, spring onions, coriander and the double carb joy that is skinny fries AND a portion of garlic rice.
There are plenty of booze options here, and I pretend it's summer with a Langs Jamaican Rum mango and ginger rum daiquiri.
However, I gulp this slushy down too fast and the extreme brain freeze is a step too far for my body temperature.
The only remedy is a medicinal Mimi’s Hot Chocolate. The ultimate Scottish street food. If you’re visiting The Neighbourgood Market in May, make sure to take a silver blanket and ear muffs.
Entry is free during the week and £3 per person on weekends. Access is free for children at all times.