Trip to the gyp: Recreating Cambridge market food at home

The Greek Gyros don’t quite taste the same without a hangover

They told us 2021 would be different. They told us that the horrors of last year were going to be left behind, and that we would soon return to the halcyon days of precedented times. And then, in the first week of the new year, it was confirmed that the entirety of the Lent term will be online. This news meant I had to come to terms with a devastating fact: I no longer live two minutes away from the gastronomic heaven of the Cambridge food market.

Still, no matter how unprecedented times get, The Tab’s trip to the gyp remains – although this time with potentially better kitchen facilities (I’m not sure how my parents would feel about me referring to their kitchen as a “gyp”).  After taking some time to mourn the (albeit temporary) loss of Market Square, I’ve decided to move on in the only way I know how – stress-baking. If I can’t drown my sorrows in the chocolate sauce from the churros stand, then I’ll just have to make it myself.

This seemed like an incredible idea at the time, maybe one of my best if I do say so myself. But, as you’ll see below, the end results didn’t always live up to my expectations (much like my supo essay feedback last term):

Funky fajitas

With my cooking experience limited to pesto pasta and the odd stir-fry when I’m feeling adventurous, I decided to start with something I was fairly confident couldn’t go too wrong. This was all about making a few different simple things and putting them all together. Marinated chicken? Check. Salsa? Check. Guacamole? Check.

My assembly skills were pretty poor, and resulted in more of the filling ending up spilled than eaten, but they looked good at the start! Even more importantly, they tasted good too – my first bite of these gave me more serotonin than I’ve had on every day since the market closed combined. All in all, a decent start.

Cooking difficulty: 3/10

Taste: 8/10

If you fancy making your own traffic-light coloured fajitas, you can find the recipe I used here. 

Churros and chocolate

My experience attempting to make churros is best explained by a simple phrase: pride comes before a fall. Confused? Let me explain. Making the dough for these was one of the easiest things I’ve done, mixing flour, baking powder and boiling water. So far, so good.

Confident that these were going to be a breeze, I heated up a pan of oil and prepared to deep fry them. It was at this point that everything went wrong. First they burned on the outside and were raw in the middle. The next ones I tried were overcooked and just became a crispy oily mess.

To fully emulate the Cambridge gyp experience at home, I even managed to set off my smoke alarm, much to my poor dog’s distress. Overall, I think it’s fair to say I won’t be attempting to make churros again any time soon. Luckily for this article though, my food photography skills really pulled through and they actually looked pretty good in the photos I took – aesthetics over taste any day.

Cooking difficult: 7/10 (although I don’t think these are actually that hard, I think I’m just a bad chef)

Taste: 2/10 (again, this was down to my cooking ability)

Get a one-up on me by making some churros which are actually edible, using this recipe. 

Greek Gyros

This was the food I was most looking forward to attempting. We’ve all seen the queue for the Gyros van stretching into the distance on a Sunday lunchtime. A wrap filled with tasty chicken/pork, tzatziki, a good portion of chips and a few cursory bits of salad to satisfy the illusion of healthiness – it’s the perfect hangover cure!

I didn’t have any normal chips in my freezer but I had some curly fries (a definite upgrade) so I put them in the oven before starting on the chicken. Much like the fajitas, this was fairly simple, it just involved marinating the chicken in Greek yoghurt, lemon juice and a few herbs and spices, and I cooked this with some pepper.

Unfortunately, my wrapping skills hadn’t improved since the fajitas, but these were all about the taste. They were nowhere near the quality as from the Gyros van itself, but whilst eating these I was still momentarily transported back to happier times, where we were able to wander to the market in groups of six and actually live in Cambridge rather than do our degrees from home. Ah, the fleeting joys of 2020.

Cooking difficulty: 4/10

Taste: 9/10

Find the recipe here (hangover not included but advisable to achieve the full affect).

Final thoughts:

Well, making these was surprisingly successful (although the less said about the churros the better). Hopefully this might give you a bit of inspiration for some cooking at home, before you can go back to the market and try the real thing in the Easter term!

Featured image credit: James Rennie, Geograph via Creative Commons License

All images are author’s own

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