The weird and wonderful London street food trucks are leading the battle charge against bland mass-produced chain food outlets.

The weird and wonderful London street food trucks are leading the battle charge against bland mass-produced chain food outlets.

This is a call to arms! There is a battle being fought on the streets of London and the soul of the city is at stake. Food is a basic human need and intrinsic to our quality of life. However, the growing dominance of corporate chains is killing choice and variety, replacing it with prefabricated blandness. Thankfully, a new breed of independent London street food trucks is fighting back. London’s street food scene is booming and growing numbers of people are unleashing incredible food ideas.

But there is fierce competition for our lunch money. As a result, where we chose to put our pounds will have a visible impact on the character of the city we live in. The decision by the Corporation of London to close Kerb’s successful street food market at the foot of the Gherkin is indicative of the fight the little guy has on his hands. But independent traders should be encouraged if we are to live in a city that embraces expression, choice and community.

We have the power to shape a more vibrant city that celebrates creative people doing things that enhance life for all of us. The quality of London’s independent street food speaks for itself, but here are five reasons to embrace the food truck revolution:

They’re Throwing Out Mad Flavour

For the most eclectic mix of flavours, the street is where it’s at. London is famous as a beacon of multiculturalism, but nowhere is this diversity more evident than in its street food. The sources of inspiration are predominantly international. Petra Barran of Kerb sees it as the “effects of empire coming back to roost in a way that’s really dynamic. The travels that people have done, the connections made, it’s all being expressed through food.”

Kristofer Adelaide is bringing Seychelles flavours from his aunty’s kitchen table to London’s streets. Vinn Goute serves up the very best island food and what might be the capital’s only octopus curry. Drawing inspiration from closer to home, Donostia Social Club offers bite-sized snapshots of Basque cuisine. But this immense exchange of ideas is often about more than just sharing food or flavours, it’s about sharing culture. As the Thai Vanduke crew explain, “Street food is inseparable from Thai food culture… cooking philosophies and skills come from the street.”

They Roll Deep

London’s food truckers hit the streets in a caravan of unorthodox vehicles that make Whacky Racers look like rush hour traffic. You can feast from VW campers, former ice cream vans, horse boxes or milk floats. The guys at Engine sling the city’s best hot dogs from a French ex-fire engine, while Mother Clucker roll in an old US military ambulance. They might not be saving lives any more but are throwing out the finest New Orleans-style fried chicken.

Luardos have undoubtedly the dopest ride in London: an iconic Citroën H van, sporting the graphical talents of Insa. They ooze with style but back it up with major substance: an award-winning fish taco and the meanest burritos out there. Kings of street food.

They’re Friendly People

When was the last time you got a real smile from anyone in a chain eatery? By contrast, Angus of the Jhal Muri Express likes to share his food with people to see the reactions on their faces. He explains it helps the food too; “eye contact keeps you on your toes. You get very lazy in kitchens”.

London’s food truckers are a tight-knit community, full of colourful personalities who understand the importance of having fun. They’re all about sharing the love…and putting on a bit of a show, from melting cheese with blowtorches to creating social media sensations. B.O.B.’s Lobster are responsible for the outbreak of foam lobster claws that have appeared in all corners of the world on Twitter.

They Rep’ Their Roots

British food often gets overlooked in favour of more exotic offerings, but Healthy Yummies celebrate seasonal and sustainable domestic produce. The range of ingredients and level of quality is remarkable, such as hand-dived West Bay scallops served with rare breed Gloucester old spot bacon and foraged sea vegetables. Similarly, the ever-changing seasonal flavours that make it into Sorbitium Ices constantly astound. Bell & Brisket add their oozing brilliance to Brick Lane beigels because they’re “simply the best.” In so doing, they pay their respects to a London street food icon and the contribution made by Jewish immigrants to the capital’s food.

They Make the World a Better Place

Despite driving a murder wagon; a mean looking blacked-out 1940s American Ford, Ben and Shrimp are compassionate people. Rainbo give 20p from each meal sold towards helping end child labour in Nepal. Ben says “it’s great to count the cash at the end of each day, knowing the money is helping people.”

A lot of the credit for all the good things happening with food has to go to Kerb, an organisation of the capital’s best food traders. Their mission is to “make cities taste better.” But Petra Barran isn’t just trying to bring street food and a carnival atmosphere to the most exciting new spots in the capital. She’s also fighting to make space for independent traders and improve the fabric of the city. At a time when so many spaces in London are being privatised and dehumanised, Kerb is one of the few challengers to the “commercialism and the choreography of space, the control of how we shop and where we go and how we move through the city. In this case the answer is food: shaking up the formulaic and the planned, for people to make it happen and negotiate for themselves.”

Check out Kerb for a slice of the best of London’s street food, or hit their first birthday party tonight in Kings Cross. Info here.