Street food is sustenance in a category all its own. While it’s not usually healthy, it’s usually cheap and tastier than you would ever expect, given that it was cooked on a rolling grill on a sidewalk. When I think of street food, I think of eating arepa-de-huevo in Colombia.
An arepa-de-huevo is made by frying a corncake dough, inserting a raw egg and refrying the arepa. The end result is a crispy shell, which breaks to a cake-like inside and a fried egg nestled in between the delicious layers of dough. The best ones I’ve tried were from carts stationed on the street by the beach. The traditional image of street food, however, has changed.
Street food is supposed to be something simple, convenient, and cheap. Oftentimes, it’s also delicious in addition to quick, sending customers back and back. In some cases, great street food is worth the extra distance if your routine changes. Ultimately though, it’s about finding something accessible and affordable on a street corner.
This change in street food also includes food trucks, which I consider to be modern America’s adaptation of street food, in addition to hot dog carts and ice cream carts. It used to be that food trucks exclusively served greasy burgers and fries or tacos. At my high school we had a name for the silver and blue kitchen on wheels that pulled up to our campus: the roach coach. Its nickname, however affectionate, doesn’t describe most food trucks today.
With the food truck trend sweeping the nation, what once was a traditionally low-end form of food service is moving up in the world. Instead of solely selling hot dogs, we have food trucks that market red velvet pancakes, organic hand-made ice cream sandwiches, and Korean barbecue. There’s nothing to complain about here.
Food trucks foods are still cheap and accessible, though the lines are sometimes too long to justify the wait. The food has gotten better and healthier and, in some cases, more specialized. That’s not to say that roach coaches no longer exist — because they do — there are just more options when it comes to street food.
Because these foods are so cheap, the number of affordable meal options has increased dramatically. The food options that carts and trucks haven’t changed much either, just expanded. Even though there are trucks that sell red velvet pancakes, there are also trucks selling tacos, burgers, and fries.
While restaurants adapt food truck meals, food trucks are changing the face of street food. Street food is here to stay, and is more vibrant and unique than ever. Either way, I’ll enjoy my arepas in Colombia on a street corner by the beach — no world-renowned chef needed.