Street food is nerve wracking. More often than not, it will come from a bubbling pot or pan. You don’t know when that thing’s been cleaned. The owner over the stall will likely have horrifying fingernails. The meat will be of a dubious nature. And it will be the most mouth-watering, delicious thing you have ever put in your mouth, ever.
America’s relationship with street food is best represented at a carnival. Everything is on a stick and likely deep fried. There are boundless listicles of what kind of horrors are being breaded and deep-fried at state fairs. These foods–the Fried Butter Balls and the Bloody Marys with full hamburgers as a garnish--are to be treated as an indulgence. Not an everyday occasion. Nevertheless, these foods scream of AMERICA like a bald eagle diving in the middle of a 4th of July fireworks explosion, taking a bite of your corndog and soaring into the horizon with red, white and blue sparks slowly fading while Bon Jovi plays.
Slowly, but surely, hipsters have taken on to the street food trend and have attempted to elevate it. No longer is it “a scary taco that I purchased from a random truck” but a “double caramelized Korean barbecue short rib, a salsa roja made from Korean and Mexican chillies, our cilantro-onion lime relish and our chili soy Kogi slaw – all over two, crisply-grilled corn tortillas.” No, but seriously, check out Kogi Taco, if you’re ever in Los Angeles.
While America does street food well, the UK has perfected it to an art. They don’t constrain themselves to the stereotypical fish and chip or some sort of sandwichy-melty-thing. No longer is British food sad soggy tea sandwiches. Instead, there’s so much melted cheese. On everything!
As there should be, really.
Since Britain was a colonial powerhouse for hundreds of years, all of the poor souls who they brought back thankfully brought their food. No longer is British food sad and bland and kind of pathetic. Instead, there are Asian flavors harkening back to the Dutch East Indies, and delicious curries and vegetarian food because of the Indians and the Pakistanis.
Thanks to underpaid immigrant families and pretentious hipsters, street food is slowly becoming less scary. Food doesn’t have to be so dang formal. While traveling, you’re not going to experience local culture while in a stuffy room, with a choking tie and desperately concerned that your white linen napkin doesn’t fall off your lap. Instead, go to where all the best food and all the best locals will be: on the street.