Scotland’s culinary landscape is changing. Its diverse population has resulted in a variety of cuisines “popping up” all across the country and it has brought a new meaning to the word alfresco.
No longer does alfresco mean eating pub grub in a beer garden erected in a car park.
- It’s a converted horsebox that is firing out the best Japanese noodles you’ll find.
- It’s a former school bus now serving mouth-watering tacos.
- Or it’s a wedding caterer who has diversified during the pandemic to bringing us the best contemporary Scottish food with a twist.
The demand for street food has blown up across the country over the past five years, with more and more of these businesses turning to hosting pop-ups or even securing their own permanent residency at a location, say, for instance, at the local beach or at one of these new street food markets, it is easier than ever to get your hands on their fare.
In Aberdeen alone we’ve seen the rise of the Backyard Beach Collective, Backyard at Union Square and The Bike Yard establishing themselves in the past few months as the places to go for the best street food in town with a selection of vendors pitching up weekly to cook up incredible food.
In the north there’s businesses including The Seafood Shack in Ullapool who have been leading the way these past few years, making their shack a must-visit when travelling the North Coast 500 or frequenting in the Highlands.
Then in Tayside and Fife you just need to look at the waterfront at the V&A to see what Heather Street Food has done.
They now have two trucks with different offerings pitched up there, and have also created their own beer garden space, too.
However, there have been many casualties throughout the pandemic, especially when it comes to the hospitality scene.
There have been losses of cuisine, like when the much-loved Christos Greek Taverna in Aberdeen and the popular El Tajin in Montrose both of which had to close.
And event caterers have been unable to attend events for near enough a year, meaning they have had to think on their toes to diversity to stay afloat. The list goes on.
But with this rise in street food, with this growing appetite for good food and flavour we have all experienced and developed throughout lockdown when we had nowhere to turn but our own kitchens really inspiration, now is the time to fully embrace the outstanding cuisine these vendors have to offer.
With travel still restricted just now those who love to embrace other cuisines while on holiday have the luxury of doing so right here in Scotland.
You no longer need to go to Italy for an authentic taste of pizza or pasta, or to Mexico for the best burrito or quesadilla, you can simply experience the joys and flavours of so many other cuisines.
In some cities we’re a long way off of having the street food parks you see in neighbouring Europe, and we’ve not really nailed the street food festival thing yet either, but with initiatives like STAXX in Aberdeen, Dunfermline’s Adventure Golf Island street food park, The Highland Food and Drink Trail, not to mention the street food parks in Glasgow and Edinburgh, we’re off to a promising start.