How to tackle the street food queue
I thought Petra Barran put on a spectacular party for the launch of her new project, Kerb last Thursday. I was expecting a bit of a meander up the boulevard (as you do) but arrived to a heaving celebration filled with the festival spirit. Music blasted out of what is normally the Spit & Roast van but was that night transformed by Justin (chicken fryer-cum-DJ) into a street food boom box. I ate a plate of Indian food from Horn Ok Please, some of which I liked very much – the pani puri were as good as ever – and some rather wonderful spiced coffee ice cream in a cone from Sorbitium Ices. I won’t go into too many details about my hangover but it’s the reason this blog post didn’t go up the following morning…
Anyway, this got me thinking…
As street food in London becomes ever more popular, so the queues get longer and the number of traders gets higher. It can be hard knowing where to start and which food is worth standing in line for. With more Kerb events planned, with the new Street Feast London night market on every Friday, and with places like Brockley Market, still going strong, it made me think that a little guide might come in handy. So here goes:
Boring. You sound like my mum… It’s all very well turning up to something like this and diving straight for the place you know had a good write-up and won an award. But everyone will have the same idea so the likelihood is you’ll queue for ages and then get pissed off when they run out just as you reach the front. So if you know in advance that you’re heading out somewhere, work out which traders are going to be there and do a bit of research giving yourself a few options to choose from on the night. NB: You will probably still have to stand in line for a while. They are making food in front of you from a van, after all.
2. SHARE THE STANDING
Share what? As I said, even if you make it to the front of the queue there is no guarantee that they’ll still have what you want left. It’s street food, and there isn’t a never-ending supply. Often I go with a few friends and get them to queue elsewhere. This way you cut the time you spend standing around – and you get to try more than one thing.
3. REVERSE ORDER
Are you trying to recommend that we eat the sweet stuff first? You’ve nailed it. Whoever decreed that savoury stuff had to come before anything else? You’re here to eat good food, aren’t you? On one occasion I saw there was noone queuing at the ice cream truck I planned to visit later so I sneaked in first before joining the queue for some fish afterwards. It doesn’t always work, but it’s one way around the problem.
4. TRADING v. QUEUING
Last thing, I promise. Remember traders need business so if there weren’t any queues they wouldn’t be trading. I repeat: it’s street food, not a restaurant where you can reserve seats and expect slick service from a team of waiters hovering over you.