We can no longer define it as a trend: the street food is, today, a rather solid economic reality to look at with great interest. This is a phenomenon that has recently exploded throughout the Western world and it is showing no sign of slowing down.
FAO estimates that there are, in the world, 2 and a half billion people who eat street food every day. The number of dedicated festivals is constantly growing and, in 2017, 52% of Italians declares to eat street food at home, at least once a week. From San Francisco to London, from Buenos Aires to Milan, there is no doubt: the sector is definitely booming.
The roots of Italian and European street food date back to ancient Greece and the Romans but until the Middle Ages it remained a food practice connected to the poorer classes forced to eat what their condition imposed, very often consuming it while working. With the industrialization, the street food became the food of the workers maintaining the image of poor food for poor people. Those meals were the ones which helped the development of regional culinary traditions.
For example the sandwich with the spleen easy available at the Sicilian markets, the sandwich with the “lampredotto”, typical Florentine product or, of course, pizza!
Street food today
Today the image of street food has nothing to do with poverty, rather it is an expression of identity, tradition and territory. Successful street food focuses on typical dishes, regional recipes and ingredients strongly linked to the land of origin.
The quality is very high and has nothing to do with the concept of fast food or junk food. Street food is trendy and gourmet. The only difference is the way it is consumed, especially because it is very easy to eat.
Those who choose street food do so to obtain the perfect compromise between the quality of the food and the wish to try something different and easy to consume. In the hospitality context, proposing street food demonstrates the search for authenticity and the rediscovery of the oldest Italian culinary traditions; it means quality and, at the same time, simplicity and immediacy.
Even the street food is not immune to the different trends that have affected the entire food industry. Vegetarians, vegan and gluten-free alternatives and proposals are spreading, so as to be able to satisfy the tastes and, above all, the needs of all palates. Another not-to-be-missed phenomenon is the increasingly harmonious combination of Italian tradition and ethnic, oriental, and Anglo-Saxon meals that are revisited by the Made in Italy taste. Some examples? You can find a Fish & Chips of fresh water fish, a Chianina beef burger or a Piedmontese Fassona Temaki.