Hip, Hip, Hurray for Street Food!

If you ever go to Toronto – one of the pleasures in that city is its street food. Those trucks with open sides that park here there and everywhere – open up and start serving delicious food. I’ll never forget having a sausage in a bun with the works (peppers, onions, mustard, ketchup, and even relish) at 2:30 in the morning just after dancing my little feet off at this fab salsa club my daughter and her friends had dragged me to.

It was yummy.

But here in Montreal – we are much less fortunate. During festival season – roughly June 1 to August 1 – the area around Quartier des Spectacle will suddenly blossom with very upscale street food vendors – not carts mind you, but full-blown restaurants with table cloths – carefully vetted by the authorities of course. And during street fairs – the St. Laurent street fair during Gran Prix weekend is a good example – there are tents up and down the road selling all kinds of things – some of it edible. Even restaurants get in on the fun – putting up tables outside their doors to sell ‘street’ ready food. Some go over-the-top and have lounging and seating areas. So – well – Montreal.

But in general, in Montreal – street food is a no-no.

Why I hear you wonder? I mean what is a city without street food?

Well – in 1967, just prior to the opening of Expo ’67 – Mayor Jean Drapeau decreed that street food was unsafe, unsanitary and unsightly. And banned it. Popular Montreal Rumor has also held that he decreed that garbage bags be only the new green type so they looked nicer when sitting on the curb. This was a Mayor with a mission. But our street food was gone.

Since then various groups have tried hard to convince the city government to change that rule – citing examples of cities like Toronto, Shanghai, even Brussels that manages to hang onto to not only their street food – but their citizens and their restaurants. It’s been a no go. Until this week. Finally – the city councilor have decreed that this summer there will be a street food pilot test – and by the summer of 2015 – if nothing goes wrong – Montreal will have street food.

Oh joy – oh pounding heart.

Wonder what Jean Drapeau is thinking of this turn of events?
Wonder what I’ll have first – Fries or a Souvlaki? Knowing it’s Montreal – probably a Prosciutto and Brie Burger.

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