By Natasha Pavlopoulou
ATHENS, May 19 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of Greeks and foreign visitors had the chance to taste recipes from around the world for a third consecutive year during the Athens Street Food Festival in the center of the Greek capital this weekend.
Over 35 stands were set up in an old depot in the district of Gazi to offer a feast of street flavor, from Peking Duck, a dish from China that has been prepared since the imperial era, to "chimney", a caramel dessert popular in the Danube region.
"The popularity of the festival is growing each year. More than 100,000 visitors, with many tourists among them, take part in Greece's biggest gastronomy event," Stavros Striligas, public relations manager of the event which runs from Friday to Sunday during the first three weekends of May, told Xinhua.
"The idea was born after some trips we made in London and Berlin. We organized the first Athens Street Food Festival in 2016 and now many Greek cities start to organize their own festivals," he explained.
Street food has been popular in Greece for decades and has gained more ground in recent years, as people work longer hours and are obliged to eat something near the office or the factory before returning home in the evening, organizers noted.
During the eight year debt crisis street food vendors and little shops have boomed as recession hit Greeks turned to snacks costing as low as 2-5 euros (2.36-5.9 U.S. dollars) instead of spending the double or triple amount at restaurants, according to market experts.
The 3rd Athens Street Food Festival is being held under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Tourism as part of a wider campaign to promote the image of a colorful modern city full of aroma and taste.
Marc Mclaughlin, an Irish lawyer who lives in New York is visiting Greece for holidays this May with his wife and their Greek-Canadian friends.
They stopped by the gastronomy festival on Friday evening and they consider returning next year, they told Xinhua.
Well-known chefs offered plenty of original street-food dishes from China and the Middle East to Colombia and Hawai.
There were also special menus for vegetarians and vegans, music and special happenings.
Alsi Sinanaj is a respected chef from Albania who brings the best of Chinese cuisine to Greece. A long queue of people has been formed in his kiosk waiting to taste Peking Duck.
"People in Greece love Chinese cuisine and this is clear during the festival," he told Xinhua. In his new restaurant in central Athens he is offering traditional Chinese dishes such as chicken satay and slow-roasted pork belly.
He is investing in quality food for the average customer, because he believes Athens street food scene is booming due to the economic crisis, he explained.
The street food craze is fast sweeping across Europe. According to estimates of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, 2.5 billion people eat street food every day.