Street Food Revolution
The word on the street is that the street is where the British public is looking for its next culinary adventure.
People are more widely travelled than ever. They have returned from the sidewalks of Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East and the Americas hungry for the cheap, fresh, big flavours of street food.
To get insight into how to create an authentic street food experience we talked to Richard Johnson, food journalist, presenter, author of ‘Street Food Revolution’ and founder of the British Street Food Awards.
“The food has to be portable – eaten on the hoof – and you should be able to hold it in one hand,” says Richard. “Being a man of a certain age, I’m not against sitting down to eat. Sitting is good, but plates are bad.
“Street food is about breaking down barriers. It shouldn’t matter that there is a bit of gravy on your chin. You should lay yourself bare a little bit and be a bit more natural in how you eat, which means using your hands and fingers.”
Street food should be a liberating experience, free from the traditional plate flanked by a knife and fork. The more creative the presentation – bowls, paper wraps, baskets, platters, griddles, woks and sauté pans – the closer the experience is to real street food. Even better if you can then serve your food using food.
Richard says, “I’m a big fan of bunny chow, which is a hallowed out loaf of bread that serves as the bowl. I’ve been on a street in Jerusalem and they’ve cooked a fat pitta in front of me, opened it up and stuffed it with hummus, pickle, fresh broad beans and falafel shacks, and handed it straight to me – it was the greatest meal I’ve ever had.”
Along with strong flavours, a simple menu and vibrant presentation, Richard believes that theatre is an important element to the street food experience and what sets a seller apart from the competition.
“Theatre makes it exciting. Every successful trader has their own line of patter and their own way of being different. ‘What the Dickens!’ have revived traditional 19th century fare dressed up as Dickensian characters or the ‘Muscle Men’ wear Victorian wrestling costumes and will arm wrestle customers for seafood. It’s exciting, fun to be around, an experience and makes food the hero.”
If you need more inspiration then the regional heats for the British Street Food Awards 2014 are in full swing. To find out more go to British Street Food where you can also download the British Street Food App and find where the best street food traders are pitched with live GPS mapping, the specials and reviews.
And if you need product inspiration for creating a street food experience, we’ve listed below some of our favourite finds…
White porcelain fish & chip box 33 x 24cm