I assume that most of us have walked around a functioning food market at some time? Or maybe even tried “street food”? If you go and see these things overseas they are really splendid affairs full of great smells, colours and flavours. Of course there is something else that is obvious, authenticity.
Just an observation, but it may be said that often we take the same thing and “ponce” it up a bit, well actually a lot. Take the humble burger. These have been lovingly made by hand for decades. A burger can use some of the cheapest cuts of meat as they tend to work well with the stew/mince end of the beast. Move to present and they are worked from the finest cuts of aged wagu fillet which have been hand minced. On a menu the other day I saw “hand battered” cod. What else are you going to batter the fish with? Don’t ask!
Anyway back to that market. Yes, we have ponced it up in recent times. You will see the continental purveyors with their excellent wares and banter. Next there is something served up by some floppy haired posh kid with a beard, multiple tattoos, a rustic shirt and a flat hat. Invariably he is just as keen to tell you about his twitter account as well as the poor animal that has been shamed after death in his trendy remake of whatever. Parked around the back will be his food truck, a corrugated sided three wheeler with all the whizzy fonts and graphics you could ever want. There will be knowing babble about the latest discovery in the vegetable kingdom that is used as the side or salsa.
You may detect a slight attitude on my behalf here but what happened to a decent bacon butty and a polystyrene cup of tea? A food truck in Italy will sell you great coffee from one of those machines with all the steam bubbling out of it. They do it in a simple, casual and honest way. Nowhere does it state that the bearded one has to turn what is a regular beverage into street performance and write his bloody initials in the foam!
Ross Boardman is author of “101 Restaurant Secrets” and an award winning restaurateur.