Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold by a hawker, or vendor, in a street or other public place, such as at a market or fair. It is often sold from a portable food booth, food cart, or food truck and meant for immediate consumption. Some street foods are regional, but many have spread beyond their region of origin. Most street foods are classed as both finger food and fast food, and are cheaper on average than restaurant meals. The types of street food varies between regions and cultures in different countries around the world. According to a 2007 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization, 2.5 billion people eat street food every day. A majority of low-and-middle-income consumers rely on the quick access and cheap service of street food for daily nutrition and job opportunities, especially in developing countries.
Rising concerns of street food includes health hazards and sanitation issues, illegal usage of public or private areas, social and ethical problems, and traffic congestion
Street food vending is found all around the world, but varies greatly between regions and cultures. For example, Dorling Kindersley describes the street food of Vietnam as being “fresh and lighter than many of the cuisines in the area” and “draw[ing] heavily on herbs, chile peppers and lime”, while street food of Thailand is “fiery” and “pungent with shrimp paste … and fish sauce.” New York City’s signature street food is the hot dog, however, New York street food also includes everything from “spicy Middle Eastern falafel or Jamaican jerk chicken to Belgian waffles” Falafel is very popular in the Middle East as fast food. Vendors sell it on the street concers is most popular in countries like Israel, Egypt, and Syria. Falafel is also the national dish of Israel. Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty that is made from chickpeas or fava beans and spices. It is a favorite among vegetarians. Jamaican Jerk Chicken is a traditional dish served in the Caribbean Islands. The original marinade demands authentic Caribbean ingredients such as scotch bonnet peppers, allspice berries and sometimes, wood from laurel trees.
Street food in Thailand offers various selection of ready-to-eat meals, snacks, fruits and drinks sold by hawkers or vendors at food stalls or food carts on the street side. Bangkok is often mentioned as one of the best places for street food. Popular street offerings includes pad thai (stir fried rice noodle), som tam (green papaya salad), sour tom yum soup, various selection of Thai curries, to sticky rice mango
Indonesian street food is a diverse mix of local Indonesian, Chinese, and Dutch influences. Indonesian street food often tastes rather strong and spicy. A lot of street food in Indonesia are fried, such as local gorengan (fritters), also nasi goreng and ayam goreng, while baksomeatball soup, skewered chicken satay and gado-gado vegetable salad served in peanut sauce are also popular.
Indian street food is as diverse as Indian cuisine. Every place has its own specialties to offer. Some of the more popular street food dishes are Vada pav, Misal pav, Chole bhature, Parathas, Bhel Puri, Sev Puri, Gol Gappa, Aloo tikki, Kebabs, Tandoori chicken, Samosa, Kachori, rolls, Idli, pohe, Bread omelette, Egg bhurji, Pav bhaji, pulaw, kachchhi dabeli, Pakora, bhutta, barf gola, cold coffee, lassi, badam shake, Kulfi, and Falooda. In Hindi speaking regions of India, street food is popularly known as nukkadwala food (“corner” food) While some vendors streamline the recipes of popular dishes to sell them on the street, several restaurants have taken their inspiration from the vibrant street food of India.
In Hawaii, the local street food tradition of “plate lunch” (rice, macaroni salad, and a portion of meat) was inspired by the bento of the Japanese who had been brought to Hawaii as plantation workers. In Denmark, sausage wagons allow passersby to purchase sausages and hot dogs.
In Egypt, a food sold commonly on the street is ful, a slow-cooked fava bean dish.
It is true that there’s a stigma in Japan that’s against eating on the move. However, during special occasions such as festivals, the streets of Tokyo are filled with vendors that serve food such as odango, sashimi, oyster, and octopus.
Cultural and economic aspects
Because of differences in culture, social stratification and history, the ways in which family street vendor enterprises are traditionally created and run vary in different areas of the world. Often times, women success in the street food market depends on trends of gender equality. This is evidenced in Bangladesh, where few women are street vendors. However in Nigeria and Thailand, women dominate the street food trade. Doreen Fernandez says that Filipino cultural attitudes towards meals is one “cultural factor operating in the street food phenomenon” in the Philippines because eating “food out in the open, in the market or street or field” is “not at odds with the meal indoors or at home” where “there is no special room for dining”
Other cultural phenomenon that affect the street food market depend on the cultural implications of walking down the street. In some cultures, this is considered to be rude, such as Japanese or Swahili cultures. Despite not being allowed for adults, it is culturally acceptable for children to do. In India, Henrike Donner wrote about a “marked distinction between food that could be eaten outside, especially by women,” and the food prepared and eaten at home, with some non-Indian food being too “strange” or tied too closely to non-vegetarian preparation methods to be made at home.
In Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam region, street food vendors produce economic benefits beyond their families. Because street food vendors purchase local fresh foods, urban gardens and small-scale farms in the area have expanded. In the United States, street food vendors are credited with supporting New York City’s rapid growth by supplying meals for the city’s merchants and workers. Proprietors of street food in the United States have had a goal of upward mobility, moving from selling on the street to their own shops. However, in Mexico, an increase in street vendors has been seen as a sign of deteriorating economic conditions in which food vending is the only employment opportunity that unskilled labor who have migrated from rural areas to urban areas are able to find.
In 2002, Coca-Cola reported that China, India, and Nigeria were some of its fastest-growing markets: markets where the company’s expansion efforts included training and equipping mobile street vendors to sell its products.
The libertarian Reason magazine states that in US, cities, food trucks are subject to regulations designed to prevent them from competing with bricks and mortar restaurants. For example, in Chicago, a regulation prevents food trucks “…from selling food within 200 feet of brick-and-mortar restaurants and, hence, prohibit them from operating throughout the city’s downtown area”, which critics have called an “anti-competitive” rule for food truck operators