Why does the Eating Our Words blog focus on taco trucks, roasted corn stands and other such street food while ignoring the city's fine dining scene, commentor Bill Chase wants to know. It's a good question, and it brings up a larger issue that's being discussed in American food circles right now. Street food is on the rise, and it's replacing restaurant food in major American cities.
It's not just taco trucks. In New York and L.A., mobile kitchens are bringing Korean barbecue to street corners. In Austin, there's chicken and waffles, sausage, pizza and kebabs. Houston has a new fried meat pie truck called "Oh My! Pocket Pies" making the rounds.
The Culinary Institute of America just held the "World Street Food Conference," where Ruth Reichl, the former editor of the former Gourmet magazine, observed that it was a healthy change that signals our maturity as a food culture. Instead of going to restaurants where we pretend we are rich people for a few minutes, street food puts you in an intimate relationship with the person who is actually cooking your food, Reichl comments.
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"In a lot of ways, I think food is starting to take the place in culture that rock and roll took 30 years ago, in that eating has become incredibly political," writes Jonathan Gold in our sister paper, L.A. Weekly. "And just as the street has always dictated fashions on music and other things, it's starting to happen that way in food."