Do you ever buy food from the street vendors? Or are you one of those concerned about the hygiene?
Personally growing up I used to sneer at the thought of buying, let alone eating street food. My mom used to buy for herself while my sisters and I watched in disgust. One day she bought fried sheep liver and we were drawn by the mouth-watering aroma, we actually wanted to taste …..maybe we were hungry. Ever since I never looked back……..
I recently visited Langa Township in Cape Town on a Saturday afternoon and had chats with three street vendors, MaDlamini, Mam’Msobo and Zukisa. They are selling chops and wors; cooked & braaied mealies and braaied chicken, respectively. Their stalls are situated around the taxi rank where the streets are buzzing with people everywhere. There are many of them in the same area selling raw and cooked food. I was thrilled by the courtesy they showed me despite their competitive work.
The first time I visited Mam’Msobo we spoke about how she could improve the hygiene and she was very keen on improving. I visited again after a month and I was very happy to see that she’s made a few changes and planning to do more.
The food sold by these vendors is very tasty and most of it has cultural relevance for an example the braaied mealies and cooked tripe.
I asked the people who say they wouldn’t buy the food why they say so. They all say it’s a concern about the hygiene that compels them not to buy. Some say there are usually a lot of flies around the food especially in the summer season and that puts them off. Fair enough, the visibility of flies around food can put anyone off. However, these vendors solely survive on the money they make from selling the food. Families are raised, houses are built, and children are sent to school all from the money made from selling food on the streets. The families also get involved in the business i.e. MamMsobo has her teenage son Simphiwe helping her, MaDlamini’s teenage daughter always comes to help on weekends and Zukisa was working with his teenage nephew on the day I visited.
Everyone is talking about the 25% of the population that is unemployed. Honestly, there’ll always be people that are unemployed, but what is inspirational about these food vendors is the initiative they took to make a living. They could have been beggars on the street with cutouts reading “unemployed, I need money to feed my family” but they are not.
Evidently, they are getting support from the locals judging from the mere fact that they continue being committed to the business. Perhaps they just need help on how they can improve the hygiene aspect i.e. if hygiene is the only thing putting people off.
My plea is that we support and advise the food vendors on how they can improve their business.
What’s your opinion on street food? Do you ever buy it?