University of New Orleans
An article about a monumental sandwich, the torta Cubana, crossed my path recently. Mixing religion (and Mormon missionary work), gender, national identity, and what might be a sandwich induced conversion experience, this is inspiring food writing. Inspiring to go find a torta Cubana, of course, but also inspiring to think about the implications and history of street food and sandwich names. Why does Mexico have the Cubana, but (at least according to the article), Cuba the Cubano? Do people even think about Cubans (of any gender) or Cuba when they eat one or the other? Here in New Orleans we have the “po’boy” (or “poor boy”), a name with roots in a 1929 street car strike. The history, written by my colleague Michael Mizell-Nelson, is fascinating, but I suspect that most people today are unlikely to pause to honor the struggles of the street car workers before digging in.
There are people who are looking into these questions. And asking more serious ones too. In fact, having read the Torta Cubana piece, I found this email from Richard Wilk, with information about a network of such people. Here it is:
The Street Food Global Network (www.streetfoodglobalnetwork.net) was created in 2012 with the aim to link people and organizations directly involved or interested in street food trade and governance worldwide.
The network is meant to be an multidisciplinary space where members can find, share, develop and implement best practices, instruments and strategies fostering an innovative street food.
Members can access a rich documents archive and participate in forums and mailing lists, to share information and ideas.
Rather than a mere virtual space, the network is meant to achieve real cooperation, joint projects, and collective publications.
To date, 180 people from 60 countries have joined the SFGN. Among them: 70 scholars from several fields (Nutritionists, Economists, Sociologists, Anthropologists), 25 professionals working in non-profit local and international organizations (eg. FAO), and 15 public managers.
Several members of the network have recently particpated in the editing of the book “Street Food. Culture, Economy, Health and Governance” by Cardoso, Companion, Marras (eds.) (Routledge, 2014).
The SFGN is managed by the Street Food SQUARE Association (www.streetfoodsquare.org).