Season 12 Episode 7

Why Are We All Obsessed with Street Food?

From traditional cooking on the street to food trucks at trendy markets, the definition of “street food” is pretty broad nowadays. Today on the podcast we’re getting stuck into it! What’s so great about street food? Why do we like it and why is it just so memorable? Mike, James and Barry relive their top street food experiences and we hear some of your fave street snacks, from Greece to Uganda and much more! Plus, we discuss how the street food experience has changed and wonder if it’s had its day… What do you think? Do you still love a street food dish or are you done with it? Do you think it’s gone too far? Let us know in the comments!


Best soundbite“It was not the thing to eat at 10am” – James Currie

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Something to make you think...

According to, the value of UK street food markets is now £1.2 billion, and it grew 9.1% between 2017 and 2018. How do you see this changing in the next few years, especially with a global pandemic?

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  1. Erinday

    As soon as I heard the Mike ask what the most searched for street food was, my immediate guess was tacos!

  2. paraka

    I lived in China for a while and I *loved* the street food there. Whatever fruit was in season you could buy on a stick, there were different juicers setup where you could watch the whole food be turned into a juice for you to buy (I drank so much fresh orange juice while there). For a while I was working 2 different jobs and as I finished up a morning at one and walked home I’d stop at a couple different vendors to pick up kebobs of meat or other things for a cheap, hassle free lunch. As soon as I finished one, there’d be another stall selling more so I could get one fresh from the grill.

    I was definitely more adventurous with street food there than I was in restaurants there (especially since I couldn’t read or speak Mandarin outside a few basics and most of the menus were just written lists). I could see and smell what I was buying with street food and I could generally buy it in a small enough portion, cheaply that if I didn’t like it, no big deal.

    Though there was one kind of tofu sold at stalls there that we just called smelly tofu because if someone was selling it in a 1-3 block radius (depending on the wind), you could *tell*. Some of my coworkers told me it tasted better than it smelled, however I’d walk 1 or 2 blocks out of the way just to avoid the *smell*, I can’t imagine getting close enough to it to eat it. 😛

    I wonder if the reason why we end up with groupings of food carts or destination street food (in North America at least) is a little down to the fact that we drive a lot? When I think of how I accessed most of the street food I ate in China, it was while I was walking around, when I think of where I’m most likely to find street food in my town, there’s some set up around places where people walk around (some seasonally, some around the bars or touristy areas) or in parking lots. The parking lot trucks are the only ones I’d expect to see across the community. But most people in my city, and in North America in general, tend to drive everywhere so it’s not a quick pause to grab street food here like it was when I was walking home in China. It makes sense that street food has become somewhat of a destination if customers are going to have to find a way to park.

    • Sunanda_K

      Oh, this struck me so much when I visited the USA! ( I can’t drive. Don’t ask). The food was amazing, but getting to the food was so difficult without driving!

  3. Annie1962

    In my case, street food has only been known by me for only a few years.
    To me it’s wonderful. Food that’s readily available, that you know shoud be good (as if it’s no good they’ll be out of business soon enough)
    This would be food that we don’t make at home, so it’s novel and interesting on top of being cheap and convenient.
    It teaches us and our kids to be adventurous and try different things
    My 17 yr old is mad about Japanese food, as am I!!!

  4. Taheera

    Love a street food experience. The sights, the sounds, the smells, it’s all a whirl and you just have to commit to it. I think in Western cultures, we’ve gone away and we’re now going back to street food culture, whereas in places like Thailand or India, it has always been and continues to be a thing (although, I do wonder how COVID has affected those vendors). I think street food might continue to grow, since food trucks are an easy way to get food without having to be in a restaurant, you’re in an outdoor space. With winter coming on, it might not be so much of a thing at least here over in North America, but it will be cool once spring and summer 2021 come to see if there is an increase in food trucks not just in major cities but in small towns and just everywhere.

  5. Watten

    I thought the most searched street food would have been bubble waffles!

  6. Sunanda_K

    Barry’s love for arancini just makes me want to visit Italy. personally, I think street food is so popular because in many cultures, it is the most authentic food you can get at an affordable price. It’s the original grab-and-go fast food that existed long before McDonalds. It’s not always hygienic, but I’m glad that the standards for that are improving everyday. I love the trendy, very expensive food-truck type street food too, because it offers experimental food from other cultures. (I’m particularly blessed to be in a city where I can grab a 20 rupee samosa or a 300 rupee French baguette sandwich with equal ease).
    And oh, tacos have taken over the world. I’m proud to have guessed that one correctly 🙂

    • Sorted

      It definitely is the original street food, and yes Barry loves his arancini.

      You sound like you’re in a great location for some delicious street food!

  7. sshome

    I am so glad Mike brought up Asma Khan. She has revolutionized the industry and has broken so many barriers. She is one of the most inspiring people I have come across in my life. I cannot wait for her new Covent Garden restaurant, especially her deli which will have a bunch of street food options.

    • Sorted

      Her restaurant is going to be one huge taste sensation ???

  8. Powerfulweak

    1) I am 100% with Mike on the Fish Tacos. I will always get fish (or shrimp) tacos if they are on a menu.
    2) it’s funny that Barry mentioned Arancini, because I have a similar memory of first arriving in Sicily one rainy March afternoon (living away from home for the first time in my life) and getting an arancini and a cipollina and a cafe and just … absorbing everything around me. I ate a lot of Sicilian street food while I was there, and I think I was chasing that first day again and again.

    I think street food is more often associated with either a fond memory or there’s that hipster-like appeal of discovering something before other people.

    • Sorted

      Yay to the fish tacos!! Street food fish is always incredible, as long as it’s fresh. It’s also funny how we do try to recreate our favourite experiences around street food, for example, the first day you arrived in Sicily. It’s the experience and how you felt at the time, the weather, the atmosphere, these all add up.

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