As a nation, we love food. We don't eat to live, we live to eat. However, people are more discerning about the food they put into their mouths now, and rightfully so.
With the media-grabbing headlines of unidentifiable meat sneaking into supermarket ready meals and frozen goods, people are beginning to grow untrusting of 'brands own' products. In 2013, it's not a severed and bloody horse head under the bed covers. It's the addition of horsemeat into products with only beef on the ingredients list. The deception of supermarket chains is just as gruesome as that infamous Godfather scene.
It's not deception but financial greed that fuels many restaurant-owners. Do they not know we're in a recession? Do they not know that every time we dig deep into our dusty pockets to pay an extortionate bill that we lose a little bit of the love we had for the restaurant scene?
There's an urgent necessity for us food-loving people to stand up and take action. We don't need to buy from supermarket chains that mislead us and we don't need to pay through the nose for average food in restaurants.
Thankfully, people are taking action, and they're doing so by taking to the streets. It's evident in the thriving farmers markets, chock-full at weekends with people shopping for food for the week, for their families, for themselves. And it's evident in the growth and popularity of the many different street food markets. In London alone there are more than ten street food markets to visit, from the extraordinarily popular nighttime market Street Feast London to Kings Cross dwellers at Kerb and Southbank stalwarts the Real Food Market.
We're seeking out high quality produce - both for cooking at home and when eating out. And there's no denying it: street food isn't the greasy affair that it used to be.
We've relegated the shoddy vans selling burgers covered in grime to the greyest places in the country - motorway service stations and rarely used industrial car parks. No longer do we have to put up with Frankenstein-style frankfurters in their red PVC jackets or burgers riddled with germs and tainted with despair.
We've welcomed in a new age of street food: sophisticated and intelligent cooking rustled up by chefs with big ideas and future or previous high-profile careers in Michelin-starred restaurants.
Ben Spalding is one such chef who has taken to the streets in recent months. He's no stranger to the culinary scene, having spent the past 10 years or so working in some of the finest Michelin-starred restaurants in the country, including bald-headed foodie genius Heston Blumenthal's flagship restaurant, The Fat Duck. Spalding comes with accolades and high praise indeed.
However, he's given it all up to work in abandoned warehouses and corners of primary schools; he works in kitchens without proper fridges or freezers, alongside customers rather than hidden away behind closed kitchen doors. His latest project, Stripped Back, currently in its second year, does exactly that - it strips back food to its essence. He describes it as 'refined street food'. I describe it as bloody excellent. It's affordable (at roughly £30 for four servings with surprises). It's passionate. It's innovative. Spalding cares about what goes on our plates - and we should too. His stint at Street Feast is coming to an end this Friday, coinciding with Street Feast's departure from their Haggerston home at Merchant Yard, but it isn't the last we've seen of Ben Spalding - at Street Feast or on the street food circuit. Exciting things are happening, and I for one will be wherever he lays his knives.
We've no excuse any more to settle for overpriced dross. There's so much good food out there that it's criminal not to take to the streets in protest.Suggest a correction