How time flies. Its weeks since the kid and I were sampling the delights of the Real Street Food festival in London. I really really wanted to go especially as I get precious little opportunity for this kind of thing in Wales. It was only on a whim, at the last-minute, on Easter Monday that I managed to shoe horn a trip in to our busy schedule. I saw ‘our’ busy schedule but I actually mean my sons. Unluckily for me the market visit wasn’t the main attraction of the day, nope it was the other excursion to see Potted Potter at The Garrick theatre that took precedence. The market trip became a whirlwind one; we only stopped at the stalls where there was food the kid wanted to taste and I ended up hurrying along in his uncompromising and short attention spanned wake.
Still, I enjoyed my brief trip but it did make me a little bit sad that on my return to Wales I would no longer have such luxuries as road side dosa’s to tempt me. We simply don’t have that kind of thing here and those that are lucky enough to set up in business are so widely dispersed that you often don’t know they are there. Sadly they are not to be found in the centre of town only in areas where they can side step council policy (i.e. whereaver kind and forward thinking people grant permission for street food vendors to park vans on their land).
This does boil down to local council policy and what appears to be a general reluctance to grant licenses to street traders, unless the stall is part of an organised ‘market’. Even where there is an organised market it isn’t filled with local street food traders, instead the council seems to ship in cheap and cheerful noodle stalls and churro stands with a uniform look and unappetising looking food. The French sausage stall at the last market was genuinely from France. I tried to hold a conversation with the owner, in very broken French and English; we didn’t get very far and I was left wondering where our own local traders were? Back in London we had a lovely time. Torn between a dosa from the Dosa Deli or something from The French Revolution creperie (the chestnut mushroom, spinach and garlic caught my eye) but I dithered too long; the kid moved fast. He started eyeing up these giant sausages, but finally opted for a cheese burger and fries from Bleecker St. Burger. When asked if he wanted it medium i.e. a bit pink, he frowned and said no I want it cooked properly. He devoured it along with the fries which were crisp and delicious.
I eventually settled for a cevapcici from Balkan street food vendors Karantania simply because it was the closest stall to where the kid was sitting and he didn’t want me to disappear from his sight. It was a little big for me so I was unable to finish it all, but the meat had a great flavour.
After all of this I longed for a Sipsmith gin and tonic from the Wondering wine company but instead settled for a spiced cider from to warm me up. Don’t be fooled by the sunshine, the weather was positively Baltic! Slowly we ambled off across the river towards the theatre, warmth and the kids highlight of the day.
Since my return to Wales I have tried in vain to make contact with the local council. I phoned and was told to email. I emailed and have as yet received no response. I’d like to have a conversation about licenses and open a discussion about how we can get more local street food vendors in business, but at the moment this is looking unlikely. In the meantime I have also given assistance to another local entrepreneur with interesting ideas and information to enable him to put together a plan for his own street food business. I’ve yet to have a response from the council but….watch this space.