Street Food

In ancient times

Street food has very ancient roots. In fact, in Roman  times a big part of the population used to have meals standing up, eating quickly by open places adjacent to the streets.  
Important traces of these buildings are found in
Pompeii. Here the taverns were both destination of the passing-by travellers and place where the poor men could heat their food since few of them did have stoves in their house.  
Besides the "cauponae" and the "tabernae" where the passer-bys bought or consumed fresh drinks or warm wine, there were numerous itinerant sellers that offered bread, pancakes, sausages. The urban popular classes knew the pleasure to eat at  the table only the evening meal.

As it already happened in the ancient Rome, both in the Middle Ages and in the Modern Age the urban classes lived most part of the day on the street, where they consumed their meals buying products in the shop or from itinerant sellers.

With the development of the industrialization and the entrance of the women in the working world  the urban popular class thickened  and the phenomenon of people feeding themselves in the street increased.

The nineteenth-century images of the Neapolitan “scugnizzi” eating with their hands  macaroni or pizza, pasta or fritters (sweet or salty), fruit or vegetable give us an idea of what life was in 1800s. 


Pizza is considered “the street food” par excellence. It is its practical way of refolding it like a booklet and eating it while walking across and through the city streets that has contrasted and still does today the mythical “Sabrett” that sell hamburgers and chips or hot dogs with the many sauces available on the market (senape, ketchup, mayonnaise) and chilli.

But besides pizza it is considered street food also specialties of our regional kitchen that in the past have been part of our daily diet. Some of them for the long preparation times and availability of ingredients would be on our tables only in occasion of religious or social events shared by all the family  reunited at the same table.


The frantic life we all live and the “plasticized “ food that the big food industries have placed on the market for the last 20 years have made us incurable nostalgic of the taste of  food of the old times. Today travellers want to taste genuine and old flavours , smell odours that take us back to the years of our childhood when we were little and would stay hours and hours in the kitchen amusing ourselves between the smell of cakes just made and long time cooking sauces.

Raw sea-food from Puglia, barbecued spuntature from Marche (calf or lamb guts), piadina from Romagna, focacce from Liguria,  fried potato dumplings from Emilia, castagnacci from Toscana,  porchetta from Rome, pane ca' meusa (bread and spleen) from Palermo, crepes from Piemonte. These are only some of the examples of the great tradition of
Italian street food.

Florence the lampredotto sandwich stuffed with tripe,  is still sold . In Palermo boiled octopus, stigghiole (guts of kidskin, barbecued lamb or calf ), sfinciones ( a kind of pizza), are characteristic food offered in the popular districts or in the city markets.

In Cagliari eating sea urchins is a real typical man rite and kiosks are blooming everywhere where you can taste them. In Sicily and Sardinia  fichi d’india are street food since 1700s.. The examples could be many and many touching some regions of the peninsula, especially  the cities of southern Italy.

The street kitchen openly breaks many of the "house" rules. Eating becomes at the same time a private fact (we often eat alone, contrarily to when we go to a restaurant or a café with friends or relatives), and a public event, because it happens on the streets or in open eating places exposed to peoples’ looks and therefore linked to the community.
You are alone and together at the same time, and this creates an atmosphere of complicity among the customers, and it comes easy to say something, tell few lines , a joke, because the situation induces a sense of non common confidence. The street kitchen is in short an art of communication.


Street Food Festivals

Street food , in a  society like ours characterized by a visible change both in its demographic component due to immigration and tourism flows, and in its urban city planning with the birth of ethnic neighbourhoods , becomes once again or maybe more than yesterday the most asked type of food by a society where roles, rhythms, spaces and rites change very fast in the name of a working market that absorbs completely energy and time and consequently pushes the worker to consume “take away” food on the street.
Made in a simple way, linked to agro-dietary tradition of the territory it belongs to, street food is probably the most honest form of offer of gastronomy , the one less subjected to the influence of the fashion of the moment and that allows people to read not only the gastronomic history of a city but also that of its inhabitants. In fact, besides pizza, considered the queen  of fast food , other products linked to other Italian regional culinary tradition are offered in kiosks or by itinerant sellers, such as piadina from Romagna, lampredotto from Tuscany as well as ethnic food such as ghiros, kebab, to name some of them.

 “ The International Street Food” of the city of Cesena, held every two years, open to Italian and foreign street food, with its three days of food tasting, meetings, fun is having such a big success that other  towns are doing the same like the city of Positano that is starting this year.

Africa, The Far East, Latin America have all well rooted food traditions and new countries such as Australia and United States are new to it.
It is in an historical time such today’s where the comparison between different cultures becomes the necessary condition before being a choice that street food show to be so up-to-date!!


The Neapolitan Friggitorie

Neapolitan people have always been full of inventiveness and obviously the first symptoms of their vivacity poured on food. One of the simplest and poorest dishes is pizza that is considered a meal and that spread all over the world. The traditional marinara pizza had simple, cheap ingredients like flour, yeast, oil, garlic, oregano and tomato, while the marinara pizza do’ pescatore ( fisherman’s pizza) was a little more expensive (but not for the fishermen that invented it)  with the alicelle or cicenielli (baby fish).
More ancient and traditional is still , in some pizzerias, the fried pizza whose little diffusion is due to the fact that not all pizza makers always have the big frying pan full of litres of hot oil where  this original pizza is dipped and cooked ,turned continuously with two long carving forks and then left on the pizza strainer for the oil to drip. This pizza was also elaborated, as it is today, by the pizzaiolo (pizzaman) that stretched two little balls of pasta putting on top of one  ricotta, ciccioli (cooked lard scraps), pepper and salt, tomato sauce and sealing it overlapping the other flattened ball, that would be pressed with the fingers along the  sides.

Today in  pizzerie, Neapolitan too, as it was many years ago, a small food display of warm fried food of various size and forms is also found, from the small  to the big croquette of potatoes (panzarotti), simple rised pasta (pastacrisciute or zeppulelle) or rised pasta with some sea alga stalks dipped in the batter (vurraccie), arancini (rice balls) white or red with sauce, eggplants (mulugnan), curgette flowers (sciurill), with batter and triangular-shaped polenta (scagliuozz or tittoli).  

Once the Friggitorie attracted with their flavour of goodness and deliciousness since they were shops where continuously three or four boilers of hot oil were working in which the delicacies were dipped into the oil by the skilled hands of the frying man who ,from a great ceramic or aluminium tureen, would take a small quantity of what would have become a good arancino or crocchè of potatoes or other. Currently in the Neapolitan area, for wedding parties in prestigious places, it is a custom to have in a corner  big frying pans  offering  "fried sfizi (goodies)", rigorously of small size, in the famous "coppo", a cone of thick paper whose function was to keep warm the goodies taken from the pan and absorb their oil: these are the corners that attract more despite the rich display of the buffet.

Among the historical friggitorie in
Naples there are some still open. In Portamendina Street at Pignasecca, in the most central and popular part of Naples, from the end of 1800s there is " Friggitoria Fiorenzano", that offers high quality food. In Capodichino there is still a good pizzeria-friggitoria that  keeps alive the tradition of this fried mixture (robba ammiscata). And it would not be otherwise since it is entitled to "Donn'Amalia 'a Speranzella" to whom the great Neapolitan poet Salvatore di Giacomo devoted his verses.
Another famous  friggitoria is  '
E Figliole”, near the old Court and the railroads, another central and popular zone in Naples, where anciently, two beautiful young ladies  would continuously fry outside attracting the passer-bys with their calls "Venite, venite , pagate oggi, a’ otto! Come, come, “You pay this day week!", that is they were paying after eight days because the Neapolitan workers usually got paid after seven days, at weekends. Moving to a richer area of Naples we find the " Friggitoria Vomero " in Fuga Square on the corner of Cimarosa street, considered also an historical one with the traditional products and big frying pans.
Besides, there are so many mobile friggitorie in the Neapolitan hinterland that will  fry in front of customers serving the simple and original products for a couple of euros.


Bulgaria Street Food

There were many street stands in the past who offered hot dogs but nowadays they are replaced by such selling popcorns – salted and turned into caramel. Salted and roasted nuts are very popular snacks, too. The street stands sell a huge variety of them – chestnuts – boiled and roasted, hazelnuts, peanuts, cachous, almonds, and seeds – pumpkin and sunflowers which are very popular among the Bulgarians, soy-beans, and chick-peas.
Recently many kiosks appeared. They offer “doner” -   it’s a traditional dish in the Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine. It’s made of fried or grilled lamb or veal. And it’s like a pancake or a bread roll filled with the meat, some vegetables and sauce. Apart of “doner” selling a piece of pizza is very popular, too.

What you ca find as typical street food in our ppt. presentation.
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Although young people tend to favour international fast foods  hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, you can still find local specialties: traditional dishes like tripe, sardines, hake filets, roast lamb, baked rice, and egg and sugar tarts.

They also offer roasted  chestnuts and other seeds that are found in streets food stands in occasion of festivals and concerts, fairs. The flavour of these food is very much different from ours since they make a wide use of spices that where imported from their colonies  and that make these food very special although cooked in a very simple way.


Hungarians like to eat pork and pork products, such as bacon. Lard, which is made from pork fat, is often used instead of butter or oil for cooking and making pastry. Disznótoros is an important winter event in rural areas. This two-day event involves pig killing and sausage making. Hungary is often called the sausage lover's paradise!

Street food stands display all sort of Hungarian foods from sausages, to stuffed cabbage, to pretzels, to desserts. In winter Hungarians like to snack on roasted chestnuts that are sold in paper bags in the parks and on street corners. One of the street food that Hungarian people like the best is gyros. The gyros, the star of the Greek kitchen, is a very delicious food and in Hungary a lot of people like it. This is a simple and cheap filling up street food but it is also easily made at home.

The steaks are rotating on a prod all day, and they are cut down the meat coat, that roasted to red. The steaks, which look like fried potato, have one cracked side, and three soft sides. In a similar zone, but a totally different culture, it is called in the turkish kitchen "döner kebab". "Gyros" is known all over the world. The natural gyros is made from lamb, but today it is usually made from pork, calf and turkey.

The source of heat is changed. Once next to the rotating meat, there was an iron basket, with living coal. Today there are gas heating, or electronic heating ovens that do the work. The sword has changed to electronic saw that you can use whitout putting too much effort. In the Greek language gyro, gyros means to rotate. In Greektown, you can find gyros just about everywhere. But few are better than those at The Parthenon, where, for the past 30 years, they've been making them by hand everyday. Large discs of ground beef and lamb are alternately layered with fat, then trimmed to fit a customized vertical spit.
The gyros is a very delicious food and in Hungary a lot of people like it.

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