Trendy Street Eats – the rise of urban foodie events
In cities all over the UK, understanding ‘street food’ to mean a greasy burger from a roadside van is a thing of the past.
The rise of food festivals, or food markets (not in the sense of local growers selling organic fruit and veg – that’s another trend altogether), dedicated to showcasing mobile food outlets serving everything from moreish bao, to fragrant curries, to artisan doughnuts, has done wonders to boost the profile of this new way of eating.
Such a wide variety of food is now available to us in the UK – and it seems that supply is feeding demand here as more and more people are trying new diets, buying new ingredients and experimenting with innovative ways of cooking and eating.
One of the most exciting new ways of swapping out your regular weekday dinner for an experience sure to get you more followers on Instagram if nothing else, is by eating out – and that really does mean ‘out’ – on the street, in disused warehouses, from a touring bus, and other trendy venues from a selection of stalls, trucks or carts cooking up delicious morsels at reasonable prices.
With events focused on street food now happening all over the UK in the form of festivals, weekly or monthly markets, exclusive pop-ups and one-offs, urban dining is a movement gaining in momentum and popularity throughout Europe.
Street food has its true home in Asia, where dishes that many of us are now very familiar with, such as pad thai, have been served from vendors on the street for centuries. The USA gladly jumped on the bandwagon a while ago, and are now of course frontrunners for fast foods like burgers and hot dogs. Thankfully, we are now getting a delicious taste of the action as more and more chefs, cooks and enthusiasts turn to street food vending as their livelihood and their passion.
Topping the lists of best street food markets in the UK are: Exeter Street Food, Brandon Street Night Market in Leeds, and Bitten Street market in Oxford. In Birmingham, Digbeth Dining Club has been voted Best Street Food event in the UK, so it’s got to be good!
Other popular examples include GRUB in Manchester, a street food fair that recently started up a weekly vegan event located in a derelict railway station – points there for the intriguing venue. The excellently named ‘Sauce and the City’ foodie bus tour also just finished serving the Northern capital after ten days of BBQ and booze in partnership with some of Manchester’s established food spots and breweries.
Sheffield has its fair share of exciting foodie events too, such as Peddler Market, which opens its doors to increasingly large crowds on the first Friday and Saturday of every month in a colourfully decorated warehouse and outdoor space. The Street Food Warehouse also do pop up dining events in – you guessed it – a warehouse, and if their status as a British Street Food Awards 2017 Finalist isn’t enough to tempt you, have a peek at the photos and videos from previous occasions on their Facebook page to get your mouth watering!
There is no doubt that street eats – food you can hold in your hand, that can taste as good as anything served on a plate indoors, and often costs a fraction of the price for a more vibrant experience – are on the rise.
What’s more, unlike other foodie fads, this movement is sticking around. It’s creating big business for those setting up as vendors, as well as community feeling and satisfaction for customers. Richard Johnson, founder of the British Street Food Awards, noted last year that ‘there is big, serious money floating around street food’ and on the flip side, the Santa Maria Foodservice Street Food Report concludes that street food is seen to be great value by those who consume it.
Street food dining is a relaxed and sociable way to eat – the flexibility of the venues, the (almost always) free entry and the excitement that builds up around the next event means that everyone can join in and enjoy themselves.
It’s not uncommon to see families, even with very young children, at these festivals and markets, as well as couples, groups of friends, work colleagues, all mingling together to create the buzz of a happily munching and sipping crowd. With such a variety of food on offer – some markets and bigger events have as many as 50 stalls to choose from – it’s not surprising that street food as a phenomenon is popular with a widening demographic.
The general consensus tells us that urban dining offers choice, value for money and a fun experience for all. What’s not to love? The online presence of the market and festival organisers means it’s really easy to find your nearest event and head on down to see what all the fuss is about.
It seems a safe bet that foodie markets and events like these are here to stay – great news as far as we’re concerned!