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gottaBKD

Toronto’s Pathetic Street Food.

Posted by gottabkd on Friday, June 15, 2007

As I often wander my city, I think of the diversity it has. All the different cultures that come here and call Toronto home really make it an interesting place to live. Many parts of the city are known as “Little this or Little that”, insert what ever culture you can think of and Toronto has one area of the city that offers that. For example “Little India ” runs east along Gerrard Street and hosts one of the largest Indian Bazaars”. That’s just an example though, as there are many more that can be found around Toronto.

One strange thing that I have noticed, is the offerings at the street vendors. First of all, these vendors are not usually found within other areas of “Greater Toronto ” which includes the burbs; Scarborough, North York, East York, Mississauga Thornhill and even Richmond Hill. Sure there are vendors that set up shop at a strip mall or in front of my local Canadian Tire Store or at some festival, but on the whole, these vendors are regulated to Toronto Proper as Toronto seems to be more lenient to having them.
Problem is this….

Toronto Harbour

…. all they typically sell are sausages (of various kinds usually three), hot dogs and the ever famous french fries. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but how many different ways can you serve french fries and keep someone coming back? And now that people are eating “more consciously” they don’t always want the creasy stuff. After spending some time in other countries, I have found that street fare can be anything from hot dogs to roti, from salad to kabobs, from coffee to pitas, yet Toronto only seems to serve the standard often boring fair. But if you want a really good hot Italian sausage or some chunky Yukon Gold french fries, the vendors offer some really good choices, boring but good.

I have often wondered why this is so and of late have come to find out that our cities health codes are very strict. Not allowing any type of meat to NOT be partially cooked prior to selling on the streets for example. This type of rule is very limiting to what a vendor could possibly offer. If I wanted to offer stir fried chicken and rice, I can’t because chicken is not allowed and even if I could use chicken then I would need to cook the chicken prior to setting up my stall. To me this would be a royal pain the butt as a vendor as I would never really know if I precooked enough or precooked too much. Sales vary from day to say and the waste that could be created could cost one more than the total profit for the day.

Years ago, when Yonge Street (the longest street in the world) closed down to auto traffic to become one very large street festival, vendors were on every corner offering almost anything. Problem was so many people became sick, usually from food poisoning that City Hall was inundated with complaints. So in order to keep a tight reign on the vendors, almost unattainable rules were set up to protect the public from being poisoned. And now today, those “rules” still apply which leads to the deplorable offerings on our streets.
It’s sad really to be living in a metropolis city with every culture imaginable and our street food is limited to… well, ghetto garbage stuck in the past.

Guy Rubino, the executive chef at Rain, an Asian-inspired restaurant on Mercer Street in the Entertainment District, addressed the board of health and said that other cities around the world put Toronto’s street meat to shame, offering noodle dishes, fresh fruit, and, in Singapore, a delicacy known as frog’s legs porridge.

“It’s not that the ingredients aren’t here,” Mr. Rubino said. “. . . it’s embarrassing. This city is trying so hard to be world class, but on this topic it is so ghetto.”

The City of Toronto is about to permit a wider selection of mobile food that is a tastier, healthier reflection of our multicultural city.
Hopefully, the laws will change allowing our diverse cultures to take their foods to the streets on a regular basis and not only during a street festival. This is the only time you can “get more variety” without actually stepping into a restaurant. Festivals like “Taste Of The Danforth” obviously get special allowances to offering their food, out in the open, to the public. But I have noticed that in order to get around the law, they cannot be more than a certain number of feet away from the front of the restaurant. Strange but true.

If Toronto really wants to become a world class city, then it seems to me they need to have world class street food….

Till Next Time…. Tags: , , , , ,
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