Convenience Foods Around the World
Street food is a type of food that can be quickly prepared, purchased and consumed, and typically is designed for solo diners. Found at food trucks, stands, carts, in markets, or convenience stores, street foods are as varied as the stories they tell.
Though it has become more trendy in recent years, street food has a long history dating back to the beginning of civilization (approx. 10,000 BCE). Without kitchens in their homes, the lower classes of ancient civilizations – from Greece to China – relied on local and traveling vendors for their daily meals. As trade increased and urban settlements grew, street food began to showcase the encounters between different cultures while illustrating how food could be used as an economic tool for growth.
Street foods have long been a staple in working class communities. Typically street food arises to meet an unmet need for a particular group. During the 1800s in India, factory workers needed a filling but light meal that could be eaten quickly, and pav bhaji was born. Recently, street foods have begun to appear on fine dining menus around the world as people seek ‘authentic’ cultural experiences. Street food reflects the history and culture of its origins and the experience and tastes of each individual cook.
This virtual exhibit was created in collaboration with Colorado State University’s spring 2022“Food and Society” course, taught by Professor Jeffery Miller. Ten street foods from around the world were curated to illustrate how street food is Of, By, and For the people.
Of the People
By the People
For the People
Buttery and savory, the Australian meat pie is known as an unofficial national dish and is the most popular food eaten at sporting events. Only 2-3 inches in diameter, meat pies are designed to be handheld, quick-to-eat and most importantly, filling. A typical pie contains chopped or minced meat and gravy and is served with a variety of condiments like tomato sauce or mashed potatoes, or served in a thick pea soup.
Across the world, you can find pie. Though they now come in many different forms, historians have traced the origins of pies to ancient Egypt. Dough was mixed with fruits, nuts, and honey and these pies were perfect for baking, preserving and storing meats for long periods of time. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans did not eat the pastry as it was made from a flour and water paste and became rock-hard as it solidified. Instead, the outer shell typically was crumbled and added to stews as a thickening agent.
The British are widely credited with bringing the meat pie to Australia in the 1780s, at the same time as the arrival of the First Fleet. When Australian residents opened a steam-powered wheat mill and added the local meats, the “down under” style of meat pie emerged. As early as the mid-1800s, pie carts operated in metropolitan areas and bakeries proudly displayed their meat pies in even the most rural of towns. Meat pies really gained popularity in the 20th century with Pie Nights at the local football clubs. Featuring music, lectures, or even eating contests, Pie Nights created a supportive community of club members.