Archive for the ‘STREET FOOD’ Category

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STREET FOOD and NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

December 31, 2012

ImageYesterday, as I walked among the Viking fans tail-gating and feasting at the food trucks on 5th street, I was reminded of a conversation with my sister over the holidays.  I was sharing my enjoyment of walking downtown on Thursdays for lunch as thousands of workers  spill out of skyscrapers along Marquette and Nicollet to dine on street food…all talking to each other, greeting passer-bys and sharing tips of where to stop and “dine”.

And out of nowhere….WHAM! I was chastised for falling for that “stupid craze” and why would anyone get suckered in to paying good money to pretend it was State Fair time and ok to eat bad food in a bad atmosphere.

And once again, as I have all my life, I retreated.  After all, despite resolution after resolution to brush off the sibling intimidation, over 60 years of programming that “I’m the dumb one” is hard to overcome-try as I do!

But driving home after Christmas, I couldn’t help but think about it and all the “street food” I have enjoyed – not at the State Fair, but around the world.

My mind raced through  almost 30 years of food around the world  in a life before Creative Events….beinets and hush puppies in New Orleans; a hot dog, a knish, a big pretzel in New York City; totilla de patate in Madrid and a ham sandwich on the lawn of Monte Carlo Casino while watching the Grand Prix; a lobster roll and Moxie soda in New England; filled tortillas on the beach in Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta; bratwurst in Munich and sausages all over northern Europe; a gyro and custard pie (bougatsa) in the Plaka in Athens; cerviche in Tahiti and elsewhere; fry bread from a Native American roadside stand somewhere in the American southwest; a taco in the Zona Rosa in Mexico City; jerk pork sandwiches in Mo Bay and Ocho Rios, conch salad in the Bahamas and flatbread curry (roti) on the beach in Mullet Bay after I went lobster-diving; fish and chips and pasties everywhere in Great Britain; dim sum in Chicago…and Hong Kong, and a village in China; pizza in Naples and pissaladiere in Nice; gelati in Florence and Sorrento and tiropitakia in Tarpon Springs; great soup and bread (bsarra) in northern Africa; falafel, kibbeh, Turkish salad, tabbouleh, hummus  through-out Israel; shrimp fritters (acaraje?) on the beach in Rio; banh mi, pho bo, satays, spring rolls, soba noodles from Japan to China to the Philippines; and all that PLUS Korean bbq beef and kimchee (bulgogi and kalbi chim) –not in Korea- but through-out the Hawaiian Islands…along with the lomi lomi but NO poi; and I am sure there is more.

No, this time I am not wrong.  Street food may only be making a resurgence recently in the US but it is indeed the roots of every culture and cuisine around the world.  It is in the streets that you find the soul of a place…not in fine dining restaurant.  Street food serves as one’s introduction to the people and place; it is the key to understanding its customs and mores.  It is as one author I referenced  described: “the most democratic grub in the world; a place where politician eats alongside peasant, and flavors are unashamedly bold.”

Street Food-always present in major cities in the US-became a national “movement” mid 2000s for several reasons including the economy was dictating cheap start up costs and cheap deliverables for the consumer.  Americans, as the Mobile Society, have long been “on the go” eaters.  That access to “on demand” food simply fused with the demand for honest and delicious food.  Food and Wine Magazine called it the “luxocratic” movement as it features indulgences that are both luxurious and democratic.  And finally, street food implies energy and resourcefulness while at the same time it is “living art” that pleases, reassures, and connotes a sense of continuity.

As for the MSP street food I enjoy?  John Edger’s TRUCK FOODS struck a key note with me with the headline:

MINNEAPOLIS:  Aspirations of World-Class Street Food

Minneapolis and to a lesser degree, neighboring St. Paul, represent a certain kind of American City.  Such a city aims to be world-class; a designation that usually translates as urbane, prosperous, and purposeful multicultural.

Edge goes on to say that although by many measures, we are already world class, the street food needs to play a bigger role; then used Mill City Farmer’s Market as a positive example…mentioning the wild rice, the raw milk cheese known as “fish bait” and the food emerging from the Chef-Shack truck that not only looked, but tasted “world-class”.  (How he missed my favorite, the Himalayan yak and vegetarian mo-mos, I am not sure.  J)

So in my mind at least, I am exonerated.  Understanding these trends and why they are important is what I do, and why guests “connect” at my events.  Add to that, my past year’s immersion in the re-urbanization of Minneapolis as a world class multicultural city, and I’m thinking I am not the “dumb one” this time around.

How does that tie to my New Year’s Resolution?  One more time, I am going to try to tackle that sibling intimidation issue.  This time I am not wishing their attitude changes; that is hopeless.  I am just concentrating on my own reaction and hoping, with a little work, it improves.