Food heritage from the streets

2013-01-22 00:59:11 GMT2013-01-22 08:59:11(Beijing Time)  China Daily
Food critic Johnny Chan has been patronizing this oyster pancake hawker in Shantou for decades. Provided to China DailyFood critic Johnny Chan has been patronizing this oyster pancake hawker in Shantou for decades. Provided to China Daily

A group of street food advocates plan to put the humble cuisine on the world platform to raise its profile and slow its demise.

For the last few decades, one of China's most dedicated foodies has been getting his oyster pancake fix from a tiny roadside stall in Shantou, Guangdong province, where he was born.

The woman running the stall has been frying the egg, potato starch and fresh oyster delicacy for 60 years, and - according to Johnny Chan - the taste has never changed.

"That is the best oyster pancake in the world. That is heaven," Chan says. "The kind of food we grew up with will always be the kind of food we like most."

But the host of The Vision television program on China's Travel Channel has one fear - that the art of making the famous dish, which has also migrated to places like Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, could one day be lost.

And with street chefs running out of places and permits to hawk their food, that day could come soon.

To save street food from going to the bin, a group of street food lovers - all of them big names in the culinary world - has come together to honor the humble cuisine in an international event.

Come May, street food chefs and industry players around the world will gather in Singapore at the first World Street Food Congress to showcase the various types of street food and to discuss ways to preserve them for posterity.

"Street food hawkers are being phased out by development, especially in the cities," says Chan, who was invited by event organizer Makansutra to speak at the press conference in Singapore late last week.

Echoing Chan's fear, Christophe Megel, chief executive of culinary school At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy in Singapore, says cuisine is all about culture and tradition.

With a growing obsession with technology - like molecular cuisine - and the promotion of the globalization of food, Megel feels it is important to revisit the roots of cuisine.

After all, this is where it all started.

 

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