In Chicago we not only must be protected from food being prepared on board a truck, but we must protect our immensely delicate restaurants from a food truck parking within 500 feet of their entrance, lest patrons be seduced away. But in most of the world, street food is everyday reality, and Sun-Times' Food Detective David Hammond, fresh from an Asian jaunt, talks about one particularly dodgy street market he went to in Sihanoukville, Cambodia:
...butchered poultry perches on tables and fish splay across the ground in the midday sun, unrefrigerated; flies swirl and dogs walk about brilliantly colored pyramids of tropical fruit and vegetables.
Admittedly, food safety standards in the immense, high-energy street market in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, are different than those in Chicago. This Southeast Asian souk could never get a pass from a Chicago health inspector. Not by a long shot.
Then he eats the grilled fish anyway. And reminds us that if Third World sanitation sometimes makes diners sick, so does First World agribusiness, and street food is important to communities struggling to bring themselves up economically— whether in Asia or on Maxwell Street in Chicago.
Respect for street food [Sun-Times]