For lunch today I want to eat something called street food. Before I knew what it was, I thought that street food referred to some sort of drug dealer dining in the ghetto. Unfortunately, it was something much more middle class.
Street food originated in the far east, where people commuting to and from work and during lunchtimes could dine very cheaply outside in the warm. A side effect of this is that properties in this part of the world have extremely small or even no kitchens.
In England, street food has been embraced and I’ve been told it has brought the cool, cheap, convenient grub to my home. Even fast food chains and pubs offer street food even though they’re indoor dining places, where food is prepared and eaten inside, nowhere near a street.
So today, I walked out of my office, walked around some stalls and choose which one I liked the look of the most. There were benches everywhere for diners to sit on, there was the customary non-offensive, upbeat funk music being played with people dancing and singing along with tone deaf abandon in their respective queues. Dancing and singing. Sober. In public. There was a well to do young man wearing jogging bottoms, an ill fitting t-shirt and dirty trainers filming the surroundings on his phone. Spinning around slowly on the spot. Filming people eating. On his phone. Sober. In public.
I decided I liked the look of the Philly cheese steak sandwiches, so I stood in the queue for one. It was raining and cold, but there were four people ahead of me and the gentleman preparing the food was serving people in pairs, so this shouldn’t take too long. Unfortunately, when I got a bit closer, noticed that he was cooking the steaks to order instead of just making a big batch. Also, he was working on a hot plate that was one hundred millimetres in length and width. I waited for twenty minutes in the rain just to be served.
When I was finally handed my hot sandwich, I was asked for seven pounds. Seven English pound sterling. For a sandwich. In broad daylight.
This unfortunately dented the cheap, fast and convenient credentials that I was informed street food represented.
In England, people have huge kitchens with large islands in the middle of them, taking up masses of space on our small island, where we currently have a housing crisis. Many parts of the far east are over populated, so obviously there’s no room for big kitchens with large islands, so they’re forced to get their food from kitchens on the street. The good news is, they are quick, cheap and convenient.
It’s almost as if English people are happy wasting space at home and money outside. Imagine standing out in the rain instead of in your nice dry, massive kitchen. Homeless people live outside on the street, yet they can’t afford street food, and they have to sit there, drunk on the floor in the rain, watching everyone else smiling, eating, dancing and singing in queues. Sober. In public.