Helsinki is exploring its new culinary culture and found its highlight at the first STREAT Street Eats conference and corresponding street food festival this last weekend. I was selected to attend the talks that took place within the Gastro trade fair, and got the chance to listen to some great speakers and learn about street food, what it means and why it’s so popular.
I love food. I am happy to pay a lot of imaginary money for a meal that will blow my mind, and I enjoy exploring new flavours and trying different things.
What makes street food special?
Sharing food with other, friends or family, or even strangers raise the value of the meal we’re having immensely. Eating is about the company, the atmosphere, the feeling and the life you create with the moment. Street food is a way of how people create the city they live in, and Helsinki is currently still being rebuilt by the people. When I moved here, the restaurant and food scene was kind of in the pre-kick-off status and by now it is developing more and more.
At Streat TALKS we heard the stories of people that built something of their own and made a dream come true with cooking street food. By taking it off the streets with the help of programmes like La Cocina or creating a whole street food market. Many street cooks that we heard of don’t have any educational background of the industry or never learnt to be chefs. But they still love to cook and to share it with the people.
The conference was seen as a statement of how street food has found its own place in society and how it stands for something these days. Street food itself is about simplicity. About discovery and about passion, and how that passion for cooking and food can overcome the dismay of stolen food trucks and losing everything. About how the idea of sharing and coming to the people can create a whole new food movement how the new definition of a market culture can change a city.
“Authenticity never goes out of fashion.”
Restaurant day, like STREAT, is a prime example of how Finnish lifestyle ideas can move the world. Actively contributing, to participate in something, that makes people happy created a wholly new sense of communality and shows how we live in a completely different place sometimes. Instead of attempting to resist and to fight seemingly insuperable boundaries like bureaucracy, positivity and good faith have proven to lead to something great.
We were treated nicely. A great breakfast with freshly baked bread from Kanniston bakery and coffee from Helsingin Coffee Roastery made a perfect start into the day which was followed by an amazing nepalese “Momo” freshly prepared for everyone by speaker Binita. Later I decided on lunch from “local German” foodtruck “Maulito’s” who surprised me with a selection of delicious German treats including a “Maultasche” and my long awaited Currywurst (Germany failed me on my recent trip there). Other options included the Street Gastro truck, Tortilla House and Liesikiesi as well as coffee from Panimo brewery.
The following day the big day for STREAT EATS and a gazillion foodies gathered in Helsinki’s Tori Quarters and the Abattoir to eat, eat and eat more. Glorious sunshine made it a truly perfect day and I didn’t even mind waiting 45 minutes for my pulled pork sandwich from Fred’s Foodtruck from Sweden. I wish there had been more space and probably also more food trucks, so the lines wouldn’t have been so long – I heard that already by 4pm some street restaurants sold out! Lucky that I still got my pulled pork which totally amazed me and I am a little sad, that I can’t go there all the time now.