Vive la revolution in high street eating
PUBLISHED: 18:06 26 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:03 20 February 2013
Street food is given a hearty dollop of street cred in a new book of recipes and stories, as Jo Haywood reports
Great food is not about Egyptian cotton tablecloths, sniffy sommeliers and luxury leather banquettes. Its not about the room its served in at all. In fact, great food could come out of the back of a campervan on a dingy street corner and still taste like heaven on a plastic plate.
This is a point that comes over loud and clear in Street Food Revolution, by Richard Johnson (14.99, Kyle Cathie), in which the author wanders around Britain with his family rail card in search of the best grub served by street traders from their large and varied selection of trailers, carts and vintage vans.
The end product is a colourful culinary odyssey that pays homage to 20 entrepreneurs who have chosen wheels over bricks and mortar to peddle their wonderful wares. By telling their inspirational stories and sharing 60 of their deliciously simple recipes, this groundbreaking book reveals a grass roots foodie revolution that hap, up until now, gone largely unnoticed.
Street food, in many ways, is better that restaurant food, said Richard, a man who is obviously not afraid of a stand-up fist fight with livid restaurateurs wielding their chefs favourite carving knives. Restaurants are hung up on some received notion of what constitutes good food the street isnt the place for that kind of snobbery.
And street food sellers buy local and seasonal as a matter of course because thats the cheapest margins are so tight theres often no choice.
But it is precisely this policy of buying locally and seasonally to keep costs at bay that means customers now get organic lambs ear lettuce instead of limp white iceberg, and rich, homemade tomato relish (thats actually got tomatoes in it) instead of gloopy, nameless red sauce (thats 99.99 per cent sugar with a smidgen of artificial colouring).
The new generation of British mobilers have none of the grit and grease that used to authenticate the whole street food experience, said Richard.
Gordon Ramsay claimed we had a long way to go before we became a great culinary nation because food wasnt enjoyed from the bottom up. Well, street food is making that happen. It is colonising our streets and reclaiming our public spaces.
And its showing us all that good food doesnt need to be stuck away in a Michelin restaurant with a menu that no one can understand.
In other words: vive la revolution, culinary comrades.
The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of North East Life
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