Social practices unfold in a spatial context and contribute thus to its production. Understanding how space is used in daily practice is crucial to understand that very space.
Among others, eating out is an outstanding practice shaping urban environments, especially in modernity.
In particular, street food is interesting because it has an highly visible, quotidian accessibility, and is a clear sign of cultural character.
There are places for having breakfast with a friend, but inadequate for a romantic dinner, or lunch with the whole family. There are places frequented by young people but not by older ones; places for men; places for a business lunch or for blue-collar workers; places to taste specialties that can hardly be prepared at home and to show off knowledge about it, and also places to see and to be seen by others.
As public settings that hold social situations, indeed, food outlets adopt different sets of behavior rules, including table manners, different kinds of relationship between consumers and servers, different furniture, decoration and other environmental attributes, and different kinds of menu at different prices. All those attributes mean to create particular settings that would serve to express and negotiate social and cultural identities and to build and make visible social distinction.
We think we can understand the city through street food, the intersection of the preparation of meals and the production of space. We might also look to carefully shape its impact to strategic ends, rather than simply enjoy it.