In the coming weeks and months I will be dispatching regular reports on my kerbside culinary experiences as I travel from Korea (where I am currently slogging out the last few months of a teaching contract) onwards to Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia, before finally finishing up in my personal street food Mecca, Singapore.
So why street food?
For me, street food represents everything that is integral to visiting a new place for the first time. Many of my most treasured travel memories have revolved around this most basic of cooking styles. Whether it be watching the smoke rising from the grills over Marrakech’s Djma el Fna like some medieval battlefield, or sampling Paejon (a Korean seafood pancake) for the first time, street food has provided me with some of the best eating and traveling experiences of my life.
Street food is also a local, seasonal and authentic way of cooking that usually utilizes only a handful of ingredients and cooking equipment to produce something that can be at once cheap, unique and delicious. There is something mind-boggingly diverse and attractive about a type of food that suits every kind of wallet and varies widely from region to region, country to country.
In my explorations in the world of gutter gastromony, I also hope to shed some light on why it is that aside from greasy hotdog stands and overpriced farmers markets, the UK and Ireland by in large fail to have any real street food scene. The weather of course is a factor, but as anyone has experienced Seoul in winter time or the mid-afternoon downpour of monsoon season will tell you, this most British excuses simply doesn’t wash.
Most of all however, I plan to enjoy some great food on the cheap and get a flavour of the people and places I visit.
But enough of the bumpf – all that’s left now is to finish with a bad pun to get things rolling.
Bon appe – street!