Last weekend I had the opportunity to sneak into the 2011 SF Street Food Festival thrown by the awesome nonprofit La Cocina a little bit earlier than the general public. I hadn’t thought about flexing my “media” status and getting in earlier than the masses, but since AJ and I have actually worked with La Cocina in the past, shooting portraits of the owners of the business that are being incubated there, I didn’t feel so bad asking if I could come a little early.
The SF Street Food Festival is pretty nifty, if you’ve never been. In it’s third year, most of the kinks from the fair seemed to have been ironed out. The lines are still long, but they aren’t as terrible as they have been in the past. I heard complaints from people that they had to wait in line for half an hour to get passports that they pre-ordered online, which doesn’t seem right, but hopefully the secret snack from Bill Corbett that were included with the passports helped assuage the frustration.
AJ and I did the media tour with other fellow food writers, led by Caleb Zigas, Executive Director of La Cocina. Caleb’s obvious enthusiam for food and the people he worked with was infectious and we had a blast sampling and visiting the booths. There were five or six different food trucks from around the country that came to San Francisco to be at the event, which is pretty amazing.
AJ and I stuck around afterwards and just wandered about, sampling food, running into friends and enjoying ourselves in what ended up being a glorious outdoor day (a rarity here in San Francisco). We ran out of steam pretty early on though and couldn’t take a bite of some of the more adventurous foods when we got to them (like the larvae tacos that Don Bugito had).
Normally I take one of the items that I eat at a food event and think to myself, how can I adapt this for my own kitchen? After all, going to food events like this inspire me so much to get into the kitchen and cook and bake. But here’s the thing. These people are working hard to try to make a living at what they love. Making it at home or reverse engineering the food that they make seemed counter-productive to the whole event.
Going to the SF Street Food Festival made me realize the important work that La Cocina is doing. I hope that one of these days I’ll see these people with their own brick and mortar restaurants or even a chain or restaurants. The food coming out of some of these people’s booths were amazing. And for once, instead of sitting there and analyzing the food to see how I could improve, change or adapt it for myself and my kitchen, I just enjoyed the moment for what it was. A day of food, fun and festivities. Because sometimes you just need to be in the moment.