I love street food. It’s not something that Glasgow often does a huge amount of. I’ve heard that it’s because the Council makes it quite difficult for food vendors to get licenses to sell unless they have a proper sit-in restaurant. So if it’s true maybe that’s why.
Obviously it’s not totally impossible, there are a few well-established food vans around and about (although the fondly nicknamed “burger van of death” by Glasgow University’s medical school isn’t exactly what I have in mind when I say I love street food). Plus, you always get people selling interesting food at the various festivals, fares and markets that are dotted around the calendar. For my money the food served at the Glasgow Mela every summer in Kelvingrove Park is always fantastic, and I’m the first in line for a bratwurst at the German Christmas Market.
However, I’m not alone in wishing there was more. Maybe a few locations that always have a few stands or vans that rotate through the year. There’s a farmer’s market every few weeks in Partick and they often have cool food available, either to buy and cook yourself or ready to eat, so that’s not bad. There’s usually something available at the Little Bird’s Market near Sloan’s in the city centre. Even so, these usually offer the same options week in, week out. There’s space for more.
A few weeks ago I dropped by the “Fork This – Let’s Eat” food festival in Finnieston. Here a bunch of restaurants from in and around Glasgow were on site to show off their skills. While it looked and smelled amazing, the crowds were overwhelming. I ended up leaving empty handed and getting a sandwich from Roast (nearby on Argyle Street, go try their Philly cheese steak because oh my God).
Likewise, there’s now an initiative to run a mini street food festival on a monthly basis at Briggait near the city centre – StrEAT. I had the same experience there – huge crowds, long lines. I don’t want to queue for half an hour for a pizza when there are plenty of Italian restaurants in the city who will deliver to my flat in less than 20 minutes.
So I’ve got a bit of a contradiction here, I realise. I love street and want a wider variety of it more readily available but I don’t want to have to battle crowds for a gourmet burger or a Goan fish curry – as awesome as that sounds.
The solution? Well, I’m sure there are plenty but one that I’ve seen work is the set up that Trinity Kitchen in Leeds has. They have a food hall in the Trinity Kitchen shopping centre that has, as well as a few permanent restaurant, a set of rotating food stalls and vans. They change every few weeks.
And sure, it’s busy at lunchtime on Saturdays but because it’s open all week and all day the crowds aren’t massive. People don’t have to take advantage of something that will only be available for one or two days – they can come back later. I’m not sure it counts as “street food” since it’s in a shopping centre, but a set up like that somewhere in Glasgow could definitely work.
Maybe the buzz around StrEAT will die down a bit over the next few months as people get used to the idea that it’s here to stay. I hope so but also hope that they can continue to make enough money to support it. In the meantime it’s too busy for me, so I’ll just have to wait for the German Christmas Market.
Originally posted here: http://unazukin210.tumblr.com/post/130679964575/street-food-festivals