What is Street Food?

chile-bagsStreet food is exactly what the words conjure up: food available in a public place, such as from a vendor on a street. And so much more!

Typically, street food is tasty, ready-to-eat food or drink sold on the street, in a market, fair, park or other public place. It is sold by a hawker or vendor from a portable stall, cart or food truck.

Some street foods are regional but many are not, having spread beyond their place of origin and enjoyed locally for their exotic or unusual ingredients and flavors. Most street foods are considered both finger food and fast food and are more reasonably priced than restaurant meals. 2.5 billion people worldwide eat street food every day, according to a 2007 Food and Agriculture Organization study.

People enjoy street food for a number of reasons: for a quick, inexpensive bite on the run, to sample flavorful local or exotic food in a social setting, to experience new ethnic cuisines, and to support entrepreneurs, small food businesses and local vendors.

From ancient Greece to Pompeii, from China to Turkey, street food has a long and colorful history. Today, it has become an urban mainstay in large cities and small towns alike, and continues to evolve and tempt the passersby on streets around the world.