Street food is here to stay: Try tacos and pizza without traveling

The great thing about street food is that you often don’t have to travel to their home country to give them a shot.

You can find street food snacks at festivals but you can also find carts selling food at weddings and corporate events too.

This is not a surprise to many. Street food has a long tradition in Asia, with vendors serving up fresh meals that people eat as they walk or sit outside.

The gigs often specialize in a certain type of cuisine, from Mexican burritos to falafel, and they give us a taste of faraway places.

A bite of pita gyros gives us a moment in Greece while chewing on Banh Mi like a short trip to Vietnam.

Pan Mi Baguette Sandwich is a classic Vietnamese street food, October 30, 2013 (DPA Photo)

Food carts have become a constant in many cities. In Britain, there are plenty of sweets at Market Halls on Oxford Street in London, Food Hall at Leeds Kirkgate Market or St Nicholas Market in Bristol.

Meanwhile, in Germany, trucks serve delicious food at St. Pauli in Hamburg, at Markthalle Neun in Berlin or at Rudolfplatz in Cologne.

Industry sources said street food was increasingly popular before the pandemic and is recovering again. Britain’s landscape is set to be worth 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6 billion), with a growth rate of 7 percent year-on-year, according to research by Lumina Intelligence.

This is thanks to the investments of small sellers, many of whom have struggled during the pandemic. “The past 14 months have been the most challenging of my career,” says Andy Lewis Pratt, Market Halls founder and former CEO.

“Before the pandemic, we were fast growing and had exciting plans for our business.” Market Halls was forced to close for a while, but reopened in March, he told The Grocer Trade.

Now, people are making up for lost time. “We’re seeing three years of events squeezed into one,” Josh Epsworth, a former street food chef who runs a reservation platform, told The Grocer. This leads to “crazy” demand for traders during the summer months, he adds.

Is there a secret ingredient that makes street food so appealing?

The colorful spectacle is part of the appeal, as hipsters vie for a spot alongside families with children, and former chefs chewing alongside people in care, according to Klaus Peter Winch, who started a food truck in 2010 and is now Adviser.

For guests and chefs alike, this is an accessible form of eating, he says. You can try a lot of delicious foods without spending the kinds of money you might have to pay in a restaurant.

Street food is the modern-day campfire, Wünsch says, adding that he’s heard the phrase somewhere.

If you’re thinking of setting up a street food cart, you might not get rich overnight, he says. But you have to bring a creative concept, good products and some clever social media marketing which could be one way to a fun form of freelancing.

Meanwhile, how about a hot dog standing in the corner, are they considered street food? Not really, in Wünsch’s view. “Chefs and recipes often come from abroad and share their culture. They make almost all the products themselves and use very little off-the-shelf.

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This “Gyros de luxe” from Dionysos in Hamburg has spicy fried pork, tzatziki flavored with raki and a salad of two kinds of beans, October 30, 2013. (DPA Photo)

In addition, food carts are often decorated in their own individual way as well. Usually, food trucks can be found in a small window of time, and are stationed at different places around the city at different times of the day. This attracts loyal fans, as opposed to stands with a restricted clientele.

Rising globalism is fueling people’s hunger for street food, says Stefan Paul, a professional chef who wrote one of the first cookbooks to collect street food recipes.

Street food is fast, although rarely like fast food as we know it, with fewer dishes prepared fresh before our eyes, from ingredients and unprocessed products. It also comes filled with a lot of heart and soul.

Paul has heard so many good stories in the delicious process of collecting nearly 100 recipes from all over the world. He describes what it’s like behind the scenes, working in mobile kitchens and exploring where some of the meals come from.

Take An Vo Dang who makes Ban Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich that typically contains a variety of pate, mayonnaise, Asian pork, pickled vegetables, green onions, cilantro, chilies, and spices.

He started with his grandparents’ recipes and then modified them further – and also created a vegan option for his Berlin cart.

Dang wasn’t willing to share the original recipe for crispy rice flour bread, but he did share how to prepare the liver dish, marinade the pork and what’s packed into his sandwiches.

Meanwhile, Michaelis Gossing, who makes food from a platform called Dionysus in Hamburg, explains his secrets about the gyros de luxe. You can try making spicy fried pork marinated in garlic, herbs and grape oil, topped with a layer of tzatziki flavored with raki and a salad of two types of beans, all served on homemade flatbread.

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