15 | Feb | 19

Hugh Thomas

Make Lunch Great Again

Office life can make you fall out of love with your food. Not surprising, given what the general grab-and-go option from the closest shop looks like. It’s all about speed, as time dedicated to the day’s essentials – food being one of them – is stripped out down to the bare minimum. Time is money and, when we don’t have much of either, street food is the winner.

Just because you can’t take your time over lunch doesn’t mean you have to settle for pre-pack. Why not Punjabi village-inspired Aloo Bhaingan and paneer makhani? New Yorkshire Hotdogs made from the ground up by the farmers who reared the pigs? Carnitas, tacos, and ceviche tostadas served from a dolled-up Citroen H van? Pie and mash – the true workman’s lunch – from a red and white Bedford? Feeling it?

It is the lunch markets, shopping malls, and pop-ups that are saving the urban worker from his or her plight. The City on London has a high concentration of such places – Whitecross, Leather Lane, Borough Market, Broadgate Circle, Liverpool Street, Magic Roundabout, Kerb’s thing at St Kat’s Docks, Market Halls in Victoria and loads more.

But it’s about more than eating something nice, or chasing what hits the dopamine spot. Traders worth their salt are big on where their food comes from when, historically, grab-and-go has been anything but. Before Gourmet Goat, where could you get kid kofta with a conscience? Other than Kappacasein, where can scaffolders and desk workers grab a dish of British-ish raclette, let alone one made from the shop’s own cheese?

There’s a distinct lack of joy found in parts of our working day, from the eyes-half-open evening commute to Julie The ‘Spreadsheet Ninja’ and Annoyingly Loud Typer. Isn’t it good that someone is trying to put the fun back in? Thank you British street food traders. Now come and get your just desserts.