You might not recognise yourself as a revolutionary particularly if, like me, your daily commute is around leafy Surrey rather than a tube ride to the heart of town. But Street Food is a-comin’ and like all grass-root revolutions, we’re all involved whether we know it or not. As a global food trend, the ferocity of the street food invasion over the last decade has been as head-twirling as it’s been dramatic – consumed by an estimated 2.5 billion people worldwide daily*, we’re a long way from a solitary corner kebab at dawn.
Street food, defined as ready-to-eat food or drink sold on the street or in other public places, is many things to many people. Whether greasy burgers in a battered van or Goan seafood from a hi-tech trailer, it continues to evolve, becoming ever more sophisticated, with the choice of foods growing all the time. Its appeal is simple. In a grab-and-go society, harassed consumers increasingly favour a convenient, affordable and value for money fix. Street food costs less than a restaurant meal, more often than not has a local provenance and with government now keeping a close eye on health and safety concerns, it’s arguably time for a re-brand as Quality Street.
Bangkok may well still be the Street Daddy with some 20,000 street vendors plying their trade on a daily basis, but us Brits wear the spawn crown proudly. With pop up restaurants in their pop down phase, street food is gaining some serious street cred. From greasy to gourmet, there’s something for everyone with tacos coming out top of the street favs. And it’s an eclectic list from burritos and burgers to bánh mì* and cup cakes for the more ‘avenue’ dwellers among us. But whatever your fancy, street markets – home to many a street stall – are fun, local and authentic, plus a chance to try out a bite-size portion of your neighbourhood exotica.
So it’s time to man the barricades, grab a placard and let them (street) wagons roll I say. Vive la révolution!
* Food and Agriculture Organisation statistics
* a French-Vietnamese baguette, a big part of Vietnam’s street food culture.
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