What do New York street foodies think of British food? Find out here…

View of Manhattan from Smorgasburg

View of Manhattan from Smorgasburg

Sliders, hot dogs, fried chicken, mac n cheese… many of London’s street food offerings have been inspired by the cuisine of our neighbours from across the pond. Maybe it’s because the US has given us some of the most portable (and therefore street food-friendly) foods. Maybe it’s because we just can’t get enough of their laid-back US style. Whatever the reason, we’d be willing to bet the trend is here to stay.

New York

With this in mind, on a recent strEAT trip to New York we thought it might be interesting to find out if our street-based American cousins share the same affection for our own humble cuisine. Would we find any fish and chip stalls on our travels? Or pie and mash perhaps? Sadly, no. There are plenty of restaurants serving British dishes (a shout-out in particular to A Salt and Battery for having such a wonderfully punny name – we entirely approve). At venues like this you can indulge in classics like Welsh rarebit, shepherds pie and – of course ­– fish and chips. But there were no street vendors dishing out British delicacies.

We started to wonder whether the Stateside street food scene was just unaware of the amazing dishes Blighty has to offer. So when we found ourselves at Smorgasburg, a ‘food flea market’ in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (AKA hipster central), we thought we’d find out just what those involved in the street food scene in New York think of when it comes to British food. (As a side point, a recent article  in the New York Times described the trials and tribulations of opening a food truck in NYC. Makes for very interesting reading!)

Smorgasburg

Here’s just a little info on Smorgasburg, just in case you find yourself in New York over the spring/ summer. It’s held every weekend in two separate locations in Brooklyn, and is well worth a visit. The one we visited is situated in a spot looking out over the East River, with stunning views of Manhattan. The stalls were numerous and delicious and on our multiple visits we indulged in Japanese tacos, deliciously rare sliders, Bolivian beef sandwiches, Greek salad, baklava… and a lot of people watching. Those Brooklyn-ites sure know how to cultivate a beard.

Chicken and waffles - an interesting combination

Chicken and waffles – an interesting combination

We also found some time to speak to some smashing vendors about what they think of British food. Here’s what some of them had to say:

Noah from Scharf and Zoyer (a stall specialising in Jewish food):

I guess when it comes to British food, the main thing I think of would be fish and chips. I also think of pies. Though the last time I was in the UK I actually ate at Nobu…

Well, swanky-pants Noah, not all of us can afford that level of luxury. We’ll stick with our kerbside offerings, thanks very much. We carried on our travels…

The very friendly man from Bossa Nova chicken burgers (who was unfortunately too busy dishing out delicious food to give us his name) had this to say:

Hmmm, British food. I guess I think of fish and chips… and of course mushy peas. Also bangers and mash.

OK, so more fish and chips. Fair enough. He also added bangers and mash to the list, which became a recurring theme…

We then visited the Butter and Scotch stall (where they were dishing out a deliciously decadent chocolate pudding). They said:

More bangers and mash! Also good to hear a shout-out for good old British puddings like Spotted Dick and trifle.

And lastly, we spoke to Queen Majesty herself (can’t get a more British name than that) from Queen Majesty hot sauce:

Bangers and mash again! And a mention for Indian food. Perhaps Queen Majesty has paid a visit to Brick Lane. Good on her.

It seems that New Yorkers (or at least, the Brooklyn-based foodies we spoke to) have a fairly traditional view of British food – old-fashioned favourites like bangers and mash and fish and chips are what they associate with us. Don’t they know that in the UK, and London in particular, you can find some of the most delicious and varied food in the world? We think it’s about time we showed them there’s more to us than heavy stodge. Perhaps it’s time someone went over there and showed them what else we can do…

Footage and pictures by Bronwen Morgan and Lucy Cuthew
 
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