01 | Feb | 17

Hugh Thomas

Far And Wide

British street food is currently captivating a big audience in a rather dry, arid place 3,400 miles from UK shores. What? Don’t believe us?

Then let’s fill you in. A couple of years ago, the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority pinged an email to the guys at London-based Real Food Festivals. One thing led to another, until RFF found themselves shipping a convoy of food trucks from Rainham in Essex to the Arabian Desert.

Suddenly it wasn’t just about running indigenous markets and events in Britain, such as their setup in King’s Cross Square. Their mission became showing how informal, good quality food paid for by the loose change in your back pocket could in fact take off in a part of the world with very different values. ‘It did occur to us more than once that what we were doing was utter madness,’ writes manager Fabio on the company’s site.

To do it, they brought along the likes of salt beef purveyors Bell & Brisket, BSF finalist The Roadery, Maltby Street stalwart The Cheese Truck, BSF Best Dessert winners Crema Caravan, and Basque pintxos heroes Donostia Social Club. This year, they’ve been put up as part of a roster of 25 food trucks from three continents (the others being Asia and the US) to give locals a taste of the culinary revolution stretching from one corner of the world to the other.

But do they bite? And how. By the second day of the initial event in 2015, ‘Word had spread via social media and the ladies of Medinat Zayed were out, and they were hungry! Far more adventurous than their male counterparts, the abaya-wearing ladies flowed through the festival in a sea of black, trying everything they could and posting it all on Instagram to prove it,’ writes Fabio. The second leg of their tour of the UAE proved to be a sellout.

All this suggests that our street food is starting to establish a reputation, even in the unlikeliest of places. Like Dubai this weekend. Nice work if you can get it!