Street Food Manifesto by TourDeFork
There has been a recent surge in media coverage and activities related to street food. Apparently this global phenomenon is on the up rise, with some calling it “the latest rage” whilst others go as far as to classify it as a full-blown revolution. Yet street food is nothing new to us, we have been selling, preparing and eating food on the street for thousands of years. Street vendors would cater for streetwise workers, working in a street based economy, but as technology has evolved it has brought social change, and most of our western economy has moved off the streets into factories and offices. This has considerably changed our approach to eating on the street and our view of public life as a whole. During the last one hundred years, street food has mainly been seen as quick, cheap nourishment for the working classes. But recently things have started to change, there has been a new awakening, especially in Europe and the US – street food is back on the agenda and some of the most interesting and stimulating ideas in food are starting out on the streets.
I guess there are various good reasons for this:
For a start, the collapsing economy has left thousands without work and not much prospect of finding any in the future, creating a new frontier for young and ambitious entrepreneurs and anyone who can afford a van and health permit. Maintenance is cheap, staff is limited to a few people and you are able to follow the crowd without waiting for it to come to you.
On the other hand, I dare anyone to just mention the words Street Food without it conjuring images of bustling multicultural streets and hot summer nights in distant foreign localities, because I honestly believe our new-found passion for street food is yet another manifestation of the need for escapism. How many times have we found ourselves lured in by the idea of cultural discovery and exciting social encounters, which have only too often resulted in us sitting alone on a side pavement with a soggy kebab dripping on our pants?
Is street food really this incredibly socializing event that everyone is making it out be? Just because a few people sit near by eating out of mono portion packets does that make a social revolution?
Street vendors do bring a positive impact to the community; they manage to revitalize public space, creating foot traffic and liven up certain parts of the city, which would otherwise remain dark and desolate. But I believe that authentic social communities develop non so much, from sharing public space but from collaborating and sharing experience.
Another interesting aspects, regarding the global re-birth of Street Food is to analyze how each country tends to approach it, in Britain and other northern European countries, the movement appears to be young, energetic and hip although improvised and highly experimental (http://www.publicpie.nl/) (http://www.daddydonkey.co.uk). In Italy, the idea of maintaining and promoting historical tradition seems the most important aspect in the rediscovery of street food. With its many regional traditions, Italy has a plethora of foods and traditions to rediscover before time allows them to disappear, therefore more institutionalized organizations, such as Slow Food seem to be leading the Street food movement.
A street food manifesto:
We have been trying in vain to find a simple term to define the concept of street food. It may seem mundane at first, but in fact it is a complex task. There is an indefinable aura which characterizes some foods immediately as “street”, whilst not others. We tend to associate an exotic context with street food, yet there are many regional and traditional foods that perfectly qualify. But is the historical and cultural context enough? Why can’t a cheeseburger bought at Mc-Donald’s be classified as street food? It’s definitely fast food but what other elements differentiate fast food from street food. It cannot merely be the act of eating or selling something on the street that allows us to define some foods as street and not others.
TourDeFork will be trying to analyze and asses the modern interpretation of such culinary traditions, by accumulating, categorizing and extrapolating individual food products from their original context, whilst trying to apply a set of rules from their Street Food Manifesto – in order to determine what may be classified as street food and what cannot, emphasizing the theory that street food it’s not what, where or with who you eat it, but how.
The underlining concept of this project is not so much to have the pretentiousness to realistically define what you may or may not consider Street food, but to provoke and stimulate public interest and debate into analyzing the cultural phenomenon of what street food is, what it is becoming and what you can do to not miss out.
TourDeFork’s Street Food Manifesto
Starts of Friday the 21st of October
and will grow and evolve until the
end of December
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