Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold by a hawker, or vendor, in a street or other public place, such as at a market or fair. It is often sold from a portable food booth,food cart, or food truck and meant for immediate consumption. Some street foods are regional, but many have spread beyond their region of origin. Most street foods are classed as both finger food and fast food, and are cheaper on average than restaurant meals. According to a 2007 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization, 2.5 billion people eat street food every day.
Street food of Thailand
Street food in Thailand brings together various offerings of ready-to-eat meals, snacks, fruits and drinks sold by hawkers or vendors at food stalls or food carts on the street side in Thailand. Sampling Thai street food is a popular itinerary for visitors, as it offers a glance of Thai cooking tradition. Bangkok is often mentioned as one of the best place for street food. In 2012, VirtualTourist named Bangkok as the number one spot for street food — the city is notable for both its variety of offerings and the abundance of street hawkers.
There is scarcely a Thai dish that is not sold by a street vendor or at a market somewhere in Thailand. Some specialize in only one or two dishes, others offer a complete menu that rival that of restaurants. Some sell only pre-cooked foods, others make food to order. The foods that are made to order, tend to be dishes that can be quickly prepared: quick stir fries with rice, such as kaphrao mu (spicy basil-fried minced pork) or phat khana (stir fried gailan), and quick curries such as pladuk phat phet (catfish fried with red curry paste). The dishes sold at wet markets in Thailand tend to be offered pre-cooked. Many people go there, and also to street vendors, to buy food for at work, or to take back home. It is a common sight to see Thais carrying whole communal meals consisting of several dishes, cooked rice, sweets, and fruit, all neatly packaged in plastic bags and foam food containers, to be shared with colleagues at work or at home with friends and family. Due to the fact that many dishes are similar to those that people would cook at home, it is a good place to find regional, and seasonal, foods. Food markets in Thailand, large open air halls with permanent stalls, tend to operate as a collection of street stalls, each vendor with their own set of tables and providing (limited) service, although some resemble the regular food courts at shopping malls and large supermarkets, with service counters and the communal use of tables. Food courts and food markets offer many of the same foods as street stalls, both pre-cooked as well as made to order. Night food markets, in the form of a collection of street stalls and mobile vendors, spring up in parking lots, along busy streets, and at temple fairs and local festivals in the evenings, when the temperatures are more agreeable and people have finished work.
Traditionally, Thai foods are prepared daily by housewives in every Thai household. Yet, selling food is a common economic activity in old Siam, as various ingredients, fruits and traditional delicacies was offered on boats in canals as “floating market” as early as the Ayutthaya Period (1350-1767). Floating market’s food or canal’s food has been sold from boats on Thailand’s rivers and canals for over two centuries. However, since the early 20th century King Rama V’s modernizations have caused a shift towards land-based stalls. Nevertheless, street food did not become popular among native Thai people until the early 1960s, when the rapid urban population growth stimulated the street food culture, and by the 1970s it had “displaced home-cooking.” In Bangkok parlance, a housewife who feeds her family from a street food vendor is known as a “plastic-bag housewife”, which originated from streets vendors packaging the food in plastic bags. The current proliferation of Thailand’s lively street food culture was contributed from both internal and external factors; Thai people way of life that involved a lot of agricultural and food production activities, their rich culinary tradition, rapid urbanization in recent decades that opened opportunities in foodservice sectors especially in urban areas, as well as the foreign visitors’ rising demand of local food prompted by the advent of the country’s tourism industry.
And so I will show you some part of urban street food in Thailand with my 70 bath to fill my stomach full.