Eat Real's first-ever LitFest was a gathering of writers and local experts asked to talk on a certain theme. I was asked to speak about street food last Friday; I delivered the following talk, a look at where the new-school San Francisco street-food scene started more than a year ago, and where it is today.
In May 2009, when I started as SFoodie editor, the first few carts in the Mission's new wave of street vending had just begun selling in places like tiny Linda Street. Later that summer, I described a typical scene at Mission Pool; vendors like Magic Curry Kart, Sexy Soup Lady, and Gobba Gobba Hey would tweet the location as “the place under the mural,” so police and Health inspectors scanning Twitter feeds wouldn't know where to swoop down. Except when they did.
The city's food media didn't exactly know how to cover the spring happenings that became a summer phenomenon. Another local food site suggested SFoodie was naïve for devoting the Weekly's blog space to a handful of nonchefs who'd set up the equivalent of lemonade stands. How could this collection of card tables and rickety carts in any way be the heir to the great street-food cultures of Asia or Mexico?