Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Kumpir from Mr. Potato
Perhaps this is the new street food sensation! Kumpir is a Turkish fast food dish made from a baked potato that's been stuffed with various fillings. Mr. Potato, a stand that makes regular appearances at San Diego farmers' markets, specializes in the snack.
I ordered a small kumpir from the stand during Adams Avenue Unplugged. The potato had very crispy skin, almost crunchy, and a dry, fluffy interior. The woman in the cart split it in half, rubbed in some butter, and then topped the entire potato with chicken, cheese, sour cream, olives, corn, and green onions. The result was a bit more cumbersome to eat than, say, a corndog, but the kumpir was extremely satisfying.
I found the white-meat chicken to be a little on the dry side--as it always is when the skin's been removed--but since the entire spud had been smeared with butter and covered in cream the final dish was more than sufficiently indulgent. Maybe the coolest thing about this dish is that it was a snack that had both meat and starch in it without being based on any grain. There's nothing wrong with corn and wheat and their ilk, but it's really refreshing to sink the teeth into a potato instead of a slice of bread every now and again.
The stand also sells baklava and borek (savory pies), but the kumpir is the dish that might stand a chance at becoming street food staple, particularly if someone had the notion to stuff it with carnitas or pulled pork in a manner that might appeal to local appetites!