Street food has changed. Whereas just a few years ago, bratwurst sausages were ubiquitous, with the occasional raclette stand, vendors are now trying to outshine one another with special home-made dishes that often get snapped up in no time at all. And they are increasingly using organic ingredients that are sourced locally. What’s more, street food has become an event in itself.
In Berlin, for example, where dishes from all over the world are available at Street Food Thursday inside Markthalle Neun, an old market hall in Kreuzberg. It doesn’t take long for visitors to notice that this is about more than banal fast food. Especially when they hear the locals enthuse about the ‘Heisser Hobel’ food truck. Named after the grater used to form Spätzle, southern Germany’s answer to gnocchi, the company sells its floury noodles around town out of a converted GDR camper van – invariably attracting queues of foodies. It goes without saying that the caterers know where the cheese they use comes from, and that the dough is always freshly prepared.
Freshness and personality could be said to be the secret behind the resurgence of street food: the ideal food truck generally focuses on a single speciality – one it has perfected and that is prepared using only the best ingredients. Take Fabian Zbinden, whose food truck is famous throughout Switzerland. He once cooked for Hollywood superstars, but now his name is synonymous with the high-end street food he sells in Bern under the name ‘La Ribollita’. Zbinden serves his chilli con carne made with all-Swiss ingredients in either a bread roll (edible dishes!) or cup.
I hear only great things. And, in my case, I’ve had to be content with just hearing about it. Because that is one of the peculiarities of the new street food revolution: you have to be in a certain place to be able to enjoy the delicious cuisine. Over the past few years, food trucks have most certainly enriched the Swiss culinary landscape. If you’d like to find out more about what street food is on offer where in Switzerland, we recommend the book “Food Truck Kitchen” by Sasa Noël and Heike Grein, published by AT Verlag.