Behind the dish: street food!

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Street food

Street food has a long and rich history. The origins of street food are still unknown but can be traced back centuries. The concept spans different civilizations, cultures and even economic classes. It’s no wonder our street food selection is a customer favourite.

We have a range of street food options and whilst the history behind each is a rich one, the dish with the longest history spanning is certainly the hog roast. The earliest evidence of a hog roast can be traced to the early cavemen. They developed a new commonplace cooking approach, using bone or wood skewers to elevate the raw meat when cooking.

As society progressed, the hog/pig roast remained a staple cuisine choice in countless cultures around the world. The popularisation of indoor ovens and cooking means most cultures adapted the pig/hog roast for larger events such as funerals, birthdays, weddings and cultural celebrations (e.g. Christmas, Thanksgiving).

The cultural significance and diversity of this dish is expansive, which is likely due to its history. A dish that has evolved alongside ourselves and over cultures yet remained so close to its original form is a truly rare phenomenon. It suggests that the hog/pig roast is a primitively satisfying dish that holds cultural significance for the human race.

 

Canape

The history of the canape is more modern. Originating from France in the mid-1800’s, canape derives its name from the french word for sofa. The dish was designed for the garnish to sit atop the base as one sits on a sofa. The original canape was designed as a variation of an hors d’oeuvre using a stale bread base and a savoury topping. Since then, the canape has evolved.

Composed of a base, spread, main item and garnish, a canape can be composed of countless materials and in countless combinations. One of our favourite combinations is our twist on a canape classic: Beetroot and gin cured gravlax with blini & dill crème fresh.

In many cultures, smoked salmon was a popular dish, especially at larger celebrations. However, smoked salmon first came to Britain in the late 19th century from Eastern European settlers. Smoking salmon was a commonplace preservation technique in Russian and Polish Jewish communities.

Our canape features gravlax which is a Nordic style of cured and smoked salmon with a balance of sweet and salty. Salmon types have continued to diversify and have since become a popular feature of many dishes, including the canape.

Bowls - Plenty of Thyme
Plenty of Thyme Wood Fired Pizza
Plenty of Thyme Canapes

Bowl Food

Bowl food is a category of catering Plenty of Thyme feels very passionate about.
The most essential component that separates bowl food from any other style of food is how the presentation structure contributes so significantly to the flavour palette.

It was considered the height of sophistication in the US during the 19th and 20th centuries to separate aspects of each meal, e.g large protein sources, carbohydrate sides and side salads subsequently, multiple plates that separate flavours and reduce the depth of the palette.

In recent years, the catering industry has witnessed the popularity of bowl food increasing. Often inspiration has been derived from cultures in which food is frequently consumed from a bowl e.g. Vietnam, Hawaii, and China.

If we turn our attention to the cultural dishes traditionally served in a bowl in these countries it is clear that our choice of crockery is integral in the palette of a dish. The combination of flavours, textures and tones of the cuisine create a depth to the dish and experience of the meal that is unparalleled. It is this aspect that many have acknowledged and led to the popularisation of bowl food internationally in recent years.

Here at Plenty of Thyme, we acknowledge the cultural importance and lineage of “Bowl Food” and have developed our menu with this in mind.

 

Wood Fired Pizza

The technique of cooking a wood fired pizza was originally used in a similar stone oven to cook bread and other carbohydrate food bases across countless cultures. It was also seemingly common practice to top bread with oils, seasonings, vegetables and cheese.

Yet it wasn’t until the 16th century that we were able to see a dish resembling pizza. It is also important to note that many cultures have dishes that somewhat resemble pizza and there remains dispute surrounding the official ‘origin’ of the dish.

Nonetheless, 16th century Naples saw the conception of the ‘bianca’. A simple, white pancake mixture coated in lard and cooked in a wood fired oven. It was popularised because of its intention to provide food for the less wealthy in society and its essentialism persists, remaining a popular dish to this day.

The introduction of the tomato base is somewhat contested. However, it is suggested to have been adapted much later than the development of the bianca. Pizza reached international recognition after its popularity in the USA during the 20th century.

And Plenty of Thyme happily offers a varied selection of wood fired pizzas as part of our menu.

 

Many of the dishes above are staples or feature in popular street food cuisine. Nevertheless, the centralised component of all of the dishes above is the fusion of cultures and the honouring of cultural tradition. Were it not for the migration of people and the celebration of cultural tradition we would not have some of our most loved dishes.

Plenty of Thyme is proud to learn from the past and lovingly construct a menu that pays homage to its history. If you’re looking for bespoke caterers Essex, look no further. Book our services now.

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