Street food has certainly become a buzzword in the food world as of late. Whether it means a hot dog eaten in Central Park or a taco from a hip food truck in Los Angeles, the culture of eating casual food on the street is taking over. This fall's Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy, paid homage to these meals with a special street food area and a variety of events dedicated to so-called street cuisine. Their definition, however, might differ a bit from how street food is currently seen in American culture.
Street food isn’t always pretty food; the food on offer in Turin is messy stuff that you won’t find in any restaurant or tourist haunt. Street food at the Salone del Gusto meant fried olives, falafel, and farinata (a chickpea crepe). Some of the foods were highly regional and some were Italian interpretations of foods from other cultures. Despite the differences, each stand had long lines of people, eager to get a sample of street eats Turin-style.
Slow Foods, which sponsored Salone del Gusto, supports "good, clean. and fair foods," and, if the street food served during the festival is any indication, has the potential to express these attributes in its purest forms. According to Slow Foods, street foods should be good and make consumers want to eat (the farinata with pesto and cheese certainly made me want to go back for more). They should be clean and not generate too much waste; and they’re hopefully fair and made with love (I’m willing to bet that was the case with my gnocchi). Street food doesn’t need to be full of gimmicks to be good. It just needs to express one of the simplest, but most complex emotions: home, even if you are digging into an exotic regional specialty.
Emilia Morano-Williams is a Special Contributor at The Daily Meal who is covering this fall's Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy.