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Original Article
Open Access Peer-reviewed

Institutionalization of Street Food in the Modern Urban Space: Conformations, Tensions and Conflicts

Gizane Ribeiro de Santana , Lígia Amparo-Santos
Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. 2019, 7(6), 465-475. DOI: 10.12691/jfnr-7-6-9
Received April 29, 2019; Revised June 07, 2019; Accepted June 19, 2019

Abstract

Street food constitutes itself in deep-rooted remote practices of walking vending. From the analysis undertaken from topics of the theories of Giddens, Beck and Bauman about western modernity, the present article proposes to reflect on the process of institutionalization of street food, from the historical nuances that marked its advent and how food starts to conform as “street” food in this modern and global context. It is evident that throughout the Modern Era, this food transposed the barrier of the trivial urban commerce, reaffirming itself as a mean of personal and collective subsistence, part of the history of various peoples, of local identity, and of structural transformations, especially in the economic and cultural sense. Qualified as a “street food, in pejorative denotation, it marks the close relationship with the changes occurring in the terrain of urban commensality, conceived with the advent of the institutionalization of eating and the emergence of the salaried class. In contemporary times this complex phenomenon, which is a producer and reproducer of modernity, adds elements of the traditional renaissance and, at the same time, forms a transcultural exponent and a path in the conflictive public space of commensality.

1. Initial Considerations

Street food constitutes itself in a complex-rooted phenomenon that emerges from Antiquity’s practices of walking vending, entering the historic periods that proceeds it and slowly becomes part of the social, economical and cultural structures from the different territories and scenarios that compose human history.

In the perspective of an analysis that anchors itself in comprehensive theories to occidental modernity, the present essay proposes a reflection on the process of street food’s institutionalization based on the historical nuances that demarcate its advent from Antiquity to Modernity, exploring its senses and how food “conformates” as street food in this modern and global context.

Three authors were selected to dialogue with modernity, Anthony Giddens, Ulrich Beck and Zygmunt Bauman. The first ones, Giddens and Beck, theorize modernity in a similar way, while Bauman presents distinct understandings, even divergent ones. This text will approach some reflexions in the direction of conceptions conjectured by the referred authors, in perpendicular tracings that street food can sew revisitating topics from these theories about modernity.

The special emphasis in the modern period is due to the understanding that, in the beginning of this Age, a resignification happened to the food sold on public roads, it became known as “street food”, which apparently solidified and unveiled a wide ranged phenomenon to scholars in distinct regions worldwide.

It shall be considered in the present reflexion that the preponderant questions, that enlace and classify modernity, transit amongst the transformations of street food. Thereby it’s not intended to solidify a unique modern period but to situate a transitive, plural, ongoing or about to be exceeded event in the vicissitudes of contemporaneity and by the multiple visions of authors that qualify it.

This transitory postulate dialogues with Richard Sennett’s 1 critique to historians, which discourses on the ways that they interpret the changes referred to the modern period in the cities, which he calls "blindness over inheritance.”

In order to recall classical sociology, through Giddens's 2 perspective, Max Weber signaled that modernity is established from the process of “disenchantment of the world" which included, among other things, the rise of objective rationality and individualism. Karl Marx, for his part, pointed out that "the force that shapes modern life is capitalism” while Émile Durkheim wrote that "the further expansion of industrialism established a harmonious and gratifying social life integrated through a combination of the division of labor and moral individualism." 2.

It’s pointed here the modern dimension marked by its joint establishment with the emergence of the pre-industrial capitalist world with still rudimentary factory structures in the midst of seventeenth/eighteenth century, a pre-modern era in the socio-historical classification. However, it is recognized that other dimensions that mark the Modern and Post-Modern ages add theoretical structures of greater complexity, which will not be explored in this article.

Contextualized in this modernity that begins under the signs of rationality, bureaucracy, industrial capitalism and profound changes in the typology of the urban, street food is experienced with the transformations of the city space. Visited and revisited by visions of the search for progress, the economy, the social structure, the sensory and the habit, distinct elements that penetrate the individuality and represent the local forms of eating in the global urban space.

Moreover, modernity can also be translated by the means of eating and forms of sociability, which are intrinsic to commensality, these are ritualistic, cultural and social aspects related to preparation and consumption.

Thus a certain food which has always been on the streets began to become “part” of it as “street food” when touched by factors that inaugurated modernity, such as the emergence of the wage-earning working class and institutionalized eating, which would lead to a disciplinarization of eating and of producing food in the circumscriptions of space and time.

Thereby to elaborate the reflection, this text is organized in three moments. The first topic will deal with the food sold on the streets as an adjunct to everyday life, organized as element of street selling along with other goods that were marketed in a pre-modern era. In a second moment, the article will expatiate about the food that became “part of the street” in the beginning of the Modern Age, which structures itself and acquires resignifications in its organization with the comm0on understanding of the street throughout a brief history that penetrates modernity itself.

The third topic will explore the new directions that street food goes through in the current modernity, after the conceptual recognition of this expression and the qualification of what is incorporated in it through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

2. The Food on the Streets in a Pre-modern Western Era

The historical mapping of street food is an arduous task when it comes to pre-modern evidence in the West. Calaresu & Heuvel 3 emphasized that “historical writings on food sold on the streets, raw or cooked, are almost absent,” though its unquestionable role for humanity.

The pre-modern period to which we situate, features demarcations from the beginning of modernity, while it preserves elements of the medieval world. Despite the advent of the Renaissance and the emergence of factory structures, the social, cultural, and economic order in pre-modern times was slowly moving away from the theocentric religious monopoly.

From Giddens 2 one can list characteristic factors of this period, such as the rudimentary dimension of administrative coordination of the States; the relation of continuity between human beings and nature - expressed, for example, in the dependence of natural sources of sustenance more than in the commercial enterprise; class relations dictated especially by access to the means of violence, or military power; the fact that time remains connected with space and place, prior to the appearance of the mechanical clock at the end of the eighteenth century; and the question of locality.

In the vast majority of pre-modern scenarios, even in most cities, the local milieu is the place of intertwined social relations beams, whose small spatial extent guarantees their solidity in time. Migrations of populations, nomadism, and long-distance travels from merchants and adventurers were quite common in pre-modern times. But the vast majority of the population was relatively immobile and isolated compared to the regular and dense forms of mobility (and consciousness of other ways of life) provided by modern means of transport. 2

In this scenario of intertwined local relations and distant travel, street sellers played a fundamental role in the exchange of goods, since their products were an essential part in the supply of food for the most varied cuisines and social strata.

There are records that in Old Rome, the largest western pre-industrial city, "food vendors were a central component of the distribution network" according to Holleran 4. For her these merchants must have been a "very visible, audible and striking feature of the streets and public spaces of the ancient city." 4

In Italian cities like Rome and Naples, the streets were considered an extension of the houses, people dine, play board games, among other activities, which were provided by the pleasant climate and the short winter. 4.

In London, the presence of street food vendors was significant, according to Krohn 5, around the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, many women and men shouted their products through the streets of the city 5. For the author, the significant number of these vendors attempted to limit trade, but oversight and control were problematic activities for the government.

An analysis from the writings of Giddens 6 has shown that the organization of cities in these pre-industrial times took place around ceremonial and administrative centers. The imperative of urban reordering was not predominant, nor for the holders of wealth. The division of classes was made through the walls, the imposing institutional buildings and the luxury residences.

Notions of sanitation on city streets were modest, more related to morality and the sacred than to the cleanliness and order of modern hygienist vision. Scientific knowledge itself was validated only by religious canons. The conception of cleanliness was intricate with the idea of civility, as Norbert Elias 7 conjectured in his work “The Civilizing Process. Vol. 1. A History of Customs."

A remarkable report of this work, attributed to a correspondence of the Duchess of Orléans, demonstrates the feeling of disgust at the bad smell of the mudflow and the food that rotted in the streets of Paris in the seventeenth century, which classifies the city as a "hideous place." This connotation reveals an embryonic process, posteriori, which would become part of the ideals proclaimed by the sanitary/hygienist movement.

Regarding to commensality, it’s recalled that inside the houses and kitchens, food and drink were traditionally linked to the domestic role of women. Historian Alice Clark, a pioneer in writing on women's work, narrates the role of women, who appeared as auxiliaries to husbands in small food trades since the Middle Ages and prevailed as walking sellers whose reputation was always associated with negative connotations, according to Calaresu & Heuvel 3.

The intensification of intercontinental travels and “interoceanic trade" as expressed by Carneiro 8, shaped one of the notorious contributions to demarcate food changes in terms of locality, in so far as food and regional foods were globalized.

The exchange of food provided changes in the structure of meals with the insertion of new ingredients and new ways of making food, influenced not only by the arrival of the products, but by the traffic of people and their eating habits. Consequently, it shall be considered that commensality on the various continents also experienced a kind of miscegenation of habits and customs. The enslaved blacks, for example, represented a relevant contribution in the integration of distinct culinary preparations in the different continents that were distributed. Regarding the dissemination of the street food trade, for example, this participation is undeniable, as will be discussed later.

Regardless of the different city perceptions that were conceived and the addition of integrating aspects of the continental interconnections, it is reflected that the food trade in the pre-modern European streets were articulated in varied ways to meet the needs of the citizens. Therefore, according to Calaresu & Heuvel 3, marketed food could be characterized, either by a food of basic necessity, for the poor, or as a luxury article, such as coffee, sold by walking sellers in London.

Moreover, with a notable presence and little-known profile, although Clark's previous citation, on the evidence of women in these domains, the elements that can characterize the individuals who practiced this commerce in the streets are scarce. The so-called “walking" codename represented the itinerary goods of food, as well as any other sales activity that transited in urban space, a fact that evidenced the ambiguous nature of the terminology associated with street vendors, as described by Holleran 4.

Heuvel 9, describing the beginning of modern Europe, classified them as typically “women, with limited resources, residents in the cities, who sold perishable goods [like exotic fruits, breads, cakes, etc.] on the corners, or the margins of formal markets, sometimes assisted by family members. " 9.

The difficulty of identifying and establishing a panorama of merchants in a pre-modern era, is largely due to the scarcity of research that traces the trajectory of street food in their countries and continents. Although notorious writing discourses on food/foods in human history, a trajectory of food on the streets remains latent in the records of cities, artifacts, literary works and other sources, or not yet explored.

In the context of urban commensality, for example, the trade in ready-made meals sold on the streets was called by Pitte 10 as "street kitchens", however, for the author the expression was denotative of what would be a historical predecessor of the restaurant which has always existed in China and continues to spread throughout Asia.

These kitchens spread out throughout Europe as part of the popular diet between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, articulating, in varying ways, the taverns, as shown in Lousada's narrative, of the city of Lisbon:

[...] it seems to indicate the usual practice of buying food from the women and the “frigideiros” that were scattered all over Lisbon, in the squares and at the door of the warehouses and taverns. These were the cases of women who, in 1831, established themselves in “Largo do Limoeiro”, "to bake, cook and fry fish: cod-slices, sardines, liver snacks, and others", or the previously enslaved and then freed woman Ângela Teresa de Jesus who in 1798 would sell mussels at the door of a warehouse in Rua dos Canos to those that were going to drink there. With a frying pan of mussels or half a dozen of roast sardines in their hands, the workers took them to the taverns and asked for bread and wine. 11.

Carlin, quoted in Calaresu & Heuvel 3, reported that even in medieval English towns, the high number of street kitchens was related to the high density of single adults living there; these worked day and night serving hot food to the men after the end of the workday.

Although Pitte 10 has used the term "street kitchens" to identify a type of forerunner trade in street restaurants, when the characteristics of these kitchens are presented, which were food preparation, cooking and sale activities on the street, in the descriptions dealt with by other authors who mentioned them, one notes a greater affinity of the expression to translate what would be a predecessor of the street food trade.

The street kitchen, in the concepts treated, translates into the transformations of food in the urban environment from the forms of preparation. It is noticed that in spite of the nickname 'street' the expression does not establish a qualification for the food, but a notion of locality to the making, once it was processed in the middle of the street. Therefore, even though there were representations of impurity related to the streets, as Elias 7 pointed out, these meanings were apparently not incorporated into street food.

From this premise, it may be considered that, together, street kitchens and street food shops have established the context for the emergence of street food trade in the various forms that present themselves in modernity. These range from the itinerant sale of food to the "fixed" points that were established in streets and corners in the cities, as seen in the circumscriptions of this meal in reports about colonial lands.

Thus, from the Old World to the colonies, narratives emerged on the construction of street food phenomenon as a commercial framework. In the Portuguese Colony, Brazil, its roots are remembered and treated as “an inheritance of the slaves that squatted in the corners and squares with senzala delicacies, from Portuguese tradition and indigenous roots" 12. An urban layout that refers to the western origins of this trade in Greece.

Often intertwined with free-trade fairs - a traditional manifestation of urban culture, in which individuals gather in a place of the city, to sell or exchange their goods in festive or determined periods - there are records corresponding to the eighteenth century, from black women who used to get together to sell their delicacies in brazilian fairs, especially in cities of effervescent commerce like Salvador, as Ferreira-Filho 13 illustrated.

In these historical demarcations, it is seen that the food sold in the streets was an essential part of a pre-modern city commensality, a mean of acquiring products that entered the kitchens of the houses and personified the possibility of experiencing the taste of foods from different origins, as well as traditional foods produced by different hands. The street was more of a symbol to a place where food could be accessed, than a qualifying element of the food itself.

3. The Food that Molded Itself "with street" in a Modern Western Period

When it comes to modernity, an analytical body of authors and publications evidences its consolidation, located in the Western world. From this perspective, as a starting point, it was in the European Continent, with the Industrial Revolution and the progressive urban, socioeconomic and cultural transformations that the modern referenced period leveraged.

Anthony Giddens described, “Modernity refers to the style, custom of life, or social organization that emerged in Europe from the seventeenth century and which subsequently became more or less world-wide in its influence.” 2. For him, a series of discontinuities separate modern and traditional - the extreme pace of change, the scope of change, and the intrinsic nature of modern institutions.

The reorganization of time was preponderant both as paradigmatic pathway and in the sphere of commensality. Giddens 2 exemplified how the insurgency of "free" time oriented, for example, to working hours, helped shaping a new way of life for a salaried working class that filled industries. Time had become a scarce commodity.

Moreover, the modern statute also brought with it a new social framing and the imperative to organize the cities, in order to meet the dynamism of prevailing capitalism. Bauman 14 identifies this historical passage as solid modernity. His understanding of modernity rests on an idea of continuity of its presuppositions, characterizing it thus, as:

Impregnated by the tendency towards totalitarianism, the totalitarian society of compulsory, imposed and omnipresent homogeneity, reduced human activities to simple, routine and predetermined movements intended to be obedient and mechanically followed, without involving the mental faculties and excluding all spontaneity and individual initiative, the bureaucracy, at least in its innate tendencies to Max Weber's model. 14

The framing served to homogenize classes, condition individuals to live from work, restrict creativity and spontaneity for bureaucratic purposes, paraphrasing Bauman 15. It is possible to reflect that the patterns of urbanization were dictated by the emergence of a notion of order, which presumed a clean public space in terms of hygiene and aesthetics, and seemed to be anchored gradually in the current scientific theories, at the time when these theories broke with the monotheistic dominion still valid in the previous period.

The consolidation of the ideal of an organized city opens space for the intensity of urban life, to the detriment of activities that were confined to the house or confined spaces. These transformations interfere decisively in the feeding patterns of individuals. Thus, “food, as an invisible actor, occupies the stage of the great constitutive processes of modernity." 8.

Calloni 16 explained that in the eighteenth century the rise of the “culture of gourmandise and amphitryon", which valued eating outside - in restaurants or bourgeois houses, represented a movement that translated a modern way of life and implemented different patterns of sociability. On the other hand, the growing proletarian class, under the Taylor regime, who did not enjoy these perks, found in street food a viable food choice.

In modernity, food inscriptions "on the street" were ratified in literary works, while social structuring factors, such as capital accumulation and class division, contributed to the dichotomization of the "de-eating" of collectivities "In the urban sphere.

The English writer Charles Dickens [...] in his autobiographical memoirs recalls experiences of being so poor that he had to spend all his earnings just to buy bread and cheese on the street because this was cheap food from the lower classes. 16

These different forms of classify and resignify urban feeding, either in the public or private domain, linked to the modern style, represent a change in the matters of commensality at the time. Transformations that persist interlaced to the ciclic come-and-go of conceptions that surround the public/private binomial.

Sennett theorizes that in dealing with these domains "it is necessary to think of them as a molecule: they are competing human modes of expression, located in different social situations, and which are corrective of each other. [...] Just as the public domain was an evolutionary phenomenon, which took shape over time, so was the private domain. " 1.

From the eighteenth century, the conceptions of private/public were interposed, in the perspective of a commensality that could be expressed to the looks and presence of strangers, in the circumscription of formal institutions, frequented by a broad bourgeoisie at the time, which, at the same time, made the place private, because of its restricted access.

Consequently, with wide dissemination and accessibility, one can reflect that the food sold in the streets has become a relevant food component among occupants of a subaltern class, working or unoccupied, deprived of time (as scarce commodity) and of economic goods, to ensure a meal within the standards of places considered “appropriate" - such as the house and restaurants.

This emerging working class, which included women and children, in its infancy, represented a paradigm shift not only socioeconomic but also cultural, in which even gender issues were mixed. Individuals who made their food in the domestic environment, women predominantly for a family group or even a small community, were compelled by the difficulty of managing factors such as time, space and financial resources to make a meal.

Krohn 5 pointed out that with limited access to cooking facilities, while living in tops of buildings without a fireplace, in the major cities of the early modern period, many workers were forced to buy food prepared in the street. For others, buying took place for convenience after prolonged periods of work.

It is noteworthy that, although historical inscriptions of street food have already revealed aspects such as the absence of domestic kitchens and lower purchasing power, as stimulating factors for the purchase of street food in modernity, the acquisition of this type of food had become almost a condition for the survival of workers in the industrial metropolis.

The restructuring of eating in the public domain would be an enduring aspect of modern social life, which typifies it in the concept of institution according to Giddens 6. In this way, the street food phenomenon, becoming a regular practice, based on the habit of eating out by a salaried class, is structured as a social institution, which adds, among other elements, a socioeconomic status and a lifestyle.

Thus, as mentioned earlier, when new forms of commensality entered the urban sphere, such as gourmeting in the bourgeois class and the institutionalization movement of “eating out," the growing search for “street food" can be interpreted as a reverse goumerization in the less affluent classes.

This institutionalization of food in public places, which began under the clothing of the capitalist economic system that emerged in the eighteenth century and was driven by the emergence of the working class, contributed to the demarcation of the modern status of urban commensality, when food ascribed to the private sphere of the house, expressively transposed to the public space.

In the public space, the preparation and consumption of food was formalized in restaurants, food services in the factories and public/private assistance offices, and in the formatting of producers and suppliers of meals recognized by the State. It is believed that outside these places, in an “informal economy”, the food whose preparation, commerce, and consumption took place on the street was popularly recognized under the nickname of “street food."

In these local incursions, the food that was instituted “street food", goes through a redefinition, as regards the ways in which it integrates physically and symbolically to the public space and its entities. In this scope, notions of street touted or emphasized by modern statues impregnated prepared food on the street. Street food thus established an institution of confrontation and at the same time resistance to the ideals of modern homogenization and order.

In order to understand how this street-food connection occurs, it is necessary to revisit elements of construction of the street conceptions in the midst of this period. In recalling the Colonial Era in Brazil, for example, streets were "constantly discredited for embodying the metaphor of all vices, transformed into the place of the excluded" 13.

Over the centuries, this dimension has persisted in collective subjectivity. Roberto da Matta alluded to a brief reflection on the symbols, house and street, parallel and at the same time complementary concepts, which are also put in check by the complex universe of street food:

At home, we have the “people” and everybody there are “people”: “our people”. But on the street, we have only disjointed groups of individuals - the human “mass” that populate our cities and which always refers to exploitation and a conception of citizenship and work that is clearly negative. 17

For the author, the street represented “the external world that is measured by the “struggle", competition and the cruel anonymity of individualities and individualisms, [...] a public place controlled by the 'Government' or by 'destiny', these impersonal forces about which our control is minimal.” 17.

The notion of public is also reflected and translated as “a life that goes beyond the life of family and close friends; in the public region, complex and disparate social groups would inevitably have to come into contact. And the center of this public life was the capital." 1.

Thus, in the street, as part of the capital city, life is between complex social groups, a place where 'minimal control', ascribed to a struggle that can not be stopped, is perceived when the public space begins to conceive public order, which are articulated according to temporal socioeconomic demands and are structured according to visions of urban modernization.

In the meantime, the commensality that occupied public roads, along the lines of street food, figured for state power, urban disorder, a social institution of difficult control, which, paradoxically, became indispensable to the masses. This institution, popularly legitimized, thus acquired its uncomfortable visibility, symbolized by the molds of the urban space that inhabited the street. A scenario up until now full of depreciative meanings, such as dirt and promiscuity, were incorporated into this food and its merchants.

The writings of Da Matta reinforce this understanding when he reported that street food in Brazil was seen as “bad or poisonous, while home cooking is good [...] the street forms a kind of perspective by which the world can be read and interpreted. A perspective, opposite but complementary to that of the house, and where distrust and insecurity prevail." 16.

Street food borrows from this dichotomous dimension of house-to-street concepts, re-signified in good / poisonous antagonism, yet being symbolized as poison, such food has given a new paradox to modernity, since it is, on the other hand, a mean of survival.

This “poisonous” metaphor is a possible translator of the ideas leveraged by the Sanitary Reform movement, which emerged in the 19th century, although, since the sixteenth century, notions of hygiene and urban improvements linked to public health had already been enunciated as an answer to diseases that decimated thousands of people, like the Black Death.

The sanitary and hygienic meanings that were incorporated in a civilizing process, factors that promoted the advent of modern urbanism, besides the format of the Nation-State, that would assume the military dominion and control of the violence, were in force the mechanism of socioeconomic shattering in modernity.

Other elements that dictated the procedures of the inaugurated modernity, demonstrated this sort of order that located the things and the people. In this new order to resort to street food in resistance, it represented a recalcitrant act in which both the food and the people who consumed it were “out of place.”

In this construct, stereotypes such as dirt and poverty were added to street food, aimed mainly at the eater and the street vendor, both citizens "out of place". In addition, it was the discourses of civilization and progress, which evoked from Europe to the furthest recesses, important catalysts for enhancing the renegade space that would occupy this activity of informal merchandise.

An example of this was Ferreira-Filho 13, referring to urban reform policies in the city of Salvador, Brazil, in 1912, which dedicated “special attention to the small food trade”. This economic-structural reorganization of the cities overcame subjective factors inherent in the merchant's autonomous entrepreneurship, in a sort of modern totalitarianism to which Bauman 14, the oppressed street food trader, later turned to creative itineraries, persist in this new order.

On the other hand, to paraphrase Giddens, it has been that the civilizing statues proclaimed by modernity did not transform the cities, but incorporated the places of the traditional cities, with preexisting social orders, in the modern urban settlement. This growth revealed the paradoxical world, to which Weber referred, in which “material progress was achieved only at the expense of an expansion of bureaucracy that crushed individual creativity and autonomy.” 2.

The symbolic crushing took place on the premise of the restructuring of urban centers towards a modern institution. The conformation of the cities, in these terms, had become an important instrument of social dominion, because with the European industrialization, the cities inflated and demanded urgent policies of control of the city space, these as well as aesthetic, accumulated reforms based on health issues, which put the street vending of food in check.

This cast of constitutive attributes, which enter the trajectory of street food, brings the Western view of its significance. From this point on, what engages street food in the pejorative sense has little relation to the terminologies that surround the seller-food-dining triad; at the commercial level - informality in spatial terms - the ambulance, in the social sphere - food produced by the poor (especially black) for the poor.

It is therefore thought that the salient feature of modernity was the pressing need for order. Bauman, in dealing with order, reflects in different dimensions on the measure of modern existence. For the author, existence is modern “insofar as it contains an alternative of order and chaos”. Or yet,

Existence is modern insofar as it is administered by capable (ie possessing knowledge, skill, and technology) and sovereign agents. Agents are sovereign insofar as they successfully claim and defend the right to manage and manage existence: the right to define order and, therefore, to set aside chaos as scrap that escapes definition. 18

Because of an exclusionary posture the new modern order the street food trade occupied a space of social refuse, therefore looks predominantly discriminatory turned to the workers of this food immersed in the banality of the street. Thus, street food is marked as an element of chaos in “modern” cities, sustains a popular “mass” that seeks refuge to meet its physiological and financial needs and beyond temporality, purposes printed in the meanings of this food, which are maintained in the descriptions of the studies that deal with the theme.

In these archetypes, it is possible to problematize that for literary theorists, scientists and public power, it was this totalitarian understanding, present in the triad order-hygiene-health, that was disseminated to the population as an instrument of control in a solid modernity and that would last for decades when it comes to “street” food. Meanings derived from other understandings that could link trade to symbolic issues and/or cultural elements seem to have been minimally addressed until the mid-nineteenth century.

In contrast to the depreciative representations that conceived it on the margins of society, in the chaotic institution of street food, are personified the elements that dominate, embody and corporify modernity, such as the time/space separation theorized by Giddens 2, in characteristics such as eating fast, in the face of the daily pressures of “free" time for work and other activities of equal intensity or even subsidies for financial sustenance, before an exclusionary market that oppresses the working class.

Moreover, in any of the periods in which modernity is classified, whether in Giddens's or Bauman's conception, street food is ubiquitous presence and its "street" modeling have assumed different meanings in the course of these transitions, a constant going-and-coming from resignifications that persist in the contemporaneity and are influenced by the contexts, in their territories, traditions and spatial disposition that occupies in the urban composition.

4. The Institutionalization of the Street Food Social Phenomenon

While entering modernity, in the analysis of this manuscript, street food institutionalizes itself socially, however, from the world economic and political point of view, the complex phenomenon of street food is consolidated in the history of modern alimentation, through its conceptual framework, which makes it institution conducive to be regulated by models of policies and actions established in international agreements.

The construction of this “landmark” was structured in the organization of a new chapter of modernization that comes on the scene. This path is traced to a movement of infiltration of new conceptions about the street gaze and urban hygiene, as modernity advances and the legacies of an earlier heritage persist, in the imperative eminence of dilution.

One of the striking forces in terms of urban reorganization was inaugurated in the 1960s, a process named by British sociologist Ruth Glass as gentrification, a sort of real estate rebuilding which replaced London's poorest population with the new middle class. Neil Smith 19 translates the phenomenon as a kind of “class reframing of the central urban landscape”.

By rebuilding themselves into aseptic and organized structures, the modern capitals of the West recreate the gentrified ideal of world urban redevelopment. This will expand in the advent of globalization in one of its many faces, going against informal activities, understood as elements of chaos in the public space. Gentrification also underlies the discourse of progress, a persistent legacy of modern advent, which emphasizes the determinations of public power and finds support in a pattern of industrialized society seen as ‘democratic’.

By becoming urban models, these “concept cities”, referred to by De Certeau function as "places of transformation and appropriation, object of interventions, but subject without ceasing enriched with new attributes: it is, at the same time, the machinery and the hero of modernity" 20. These elements point to an understanding that the degree of modernity is also measured by the city's urban landscape, as it is remodeled by it.

In these demarcations, in the modern effervescent city, “eating-out” was increasingly demanded, in a society of frenetic rhythms and scarce times, where other advents such as the advancement of conservation procedures and regularity in the supply of foodstuffs during the year, certainly contributed to make the determinants of choice and taste, elements of popular reach, which consolidated this 'new' style of eating.

These circumstances point to a stimulus to the expansion of out-of-home dining services in modern consumer capitalist buildings such as the shopping center, which have led to growth in the number of upscale restaurants and emerging fast-food chains, or in a parallel way, the search for other foods, which were passing through public streets, by a growing population.

The expansion and dispersion of eating on the streets, full of socioeconomic and/or subjective determinants, combine elements to problematize this behavior of individuals as a modern habit, impelling urban managers to multiply their strategies of intervention and control of urban spaces, seen that, in private environments, the formal economic status and its taxation, should already exercise imperative control.

Thus, in a global world, the strength of the street food trade, in terms of a viable economic alternative, with its expressive participation in the economy of the developing countries and the social control it performs, shaped the way to institutionalize street food in the international sphere, from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in the 1980s.

It emerges as a product of the Regional Workshop on Street Foods in Asia, based in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, conducted by FAO, the theoretical framework that legitimates nomenclature - street food, and offers an internationally accepted concept that would group the food and preparations who are sheltered under the qualifier of street food.

From this event, the definition referred to by Winarno was endorsed by the FAO, in agreeing at the meeting that the expression “street food” came to “describe a wide range of ready-to-eat foods and beverages sold and sometimes prepared in public spaces, namely street.” 21.

Although the FAO, recognizing the concept, did not point to interventionist directions, the phenomenon, street food, now “palpable” as a modern socioeconomic “institution”, could become susceptible to new strategies of “legitimate” interventions from public power in addition to the “sanitation” operations already practiced.

It tries to emphasize that in the globalized world, in addition to the industrial and economic capitalist mechanisms that have shaped living standards, the determination of global models of health and safety to control diseases and epidemics, which become extraterritorial elements of regulation, these will reach the molds as they process the regulation and oversight of the street food trade.

Therefore, in the field of sciences, the enhancement of the technological arsenal for research, the recognition of the pathological aspects, the microbiological entities and the eminent risks that surround environmental elements, have allowed the emergence of these international policies of control and management of the potential dangers to the survival of the human species.

Most of these control incursions would be found at feeding, the problem was not only the lack of food, which had an impact on the promotion of food safety, but also the state of conservation and the characteristics of food for consumption; food as a source of disease, which would trigger the importance of designing a safe food.

Thus, from the 1990s, a boom in publications resulting from diagnostic research around the world dismantled street food by reinforcing the theme of its pathological face and its infeasibility for consumption. Analysis of the food and the hands of those who produced them revealed a series of contaminating and pathogenic micro-presences. The sellers then became “manipulators” and entered the control role of health policy surveillance.

On the aspects pointed above, they do not attempt to disqualify the field of microbiological sciences; it is the "political" actions that borrow scientific knowledge, as an instrument of power, through it, find support in probabilistic conceptions and verifications, feedbacking a game of forces and legitimacy. In this direction they attribute guilt to the “manipulators” by the impurities and disorders, which started to compose ingredients of these foods, between the lines endures the notion of “poison” printed to the street food.

The international recognition of the expressive participation of street food trade in the world has generated a multiplicity of strategies/programs and policies in countries following FAO recommendations to transform “impure” or “unsafe” food into food that could be accepted or, in an implicit sense, incorporated into modernity.

In this way, strategies for regulatory educational actions, standardizing, to introduce street food into modern urban settlements, are developed, so the training of salespeople in the sanitary and hygienic aspects will become a role for the State, as well as its oversight. On the other hand, it was up to the sellers an instrumentalization from the required molds, from clothing and adornments, to a physical restructuring of commerce, whether it be a fixed point or walking.

Little by little, traditional sellers were forced to abandon old forms of labor in the street trade, in order to adapt to current health and safety standards. In Brazil, for example, the introduction of standardized metal structures overlaid the old wooden boards of the baianas de acarajé.

As the insertion of new knowledge would delineate the course to structure a normative regulatory project for street food, within the states, modernity gradually confronts its own surroundings and reestablishes its practices, according to the reflective face that presents itself, according to the theory by Ulrich Beck.

In dealing with reflexive modernization, Beck et al introduces theoretical notions that may contribute to illuminating the contemporary tendencies of conceiving commensality, among them, the emergence of a risk society. For the author, “risks have their origin precisely in the triumph of instrumentally rational order," he adds, “[...] in matters of risk, no one is a specialist, or everyone is a specialist, because the specialists presuppose what is expected they make possible and produce: cultural acceptance.” Finally, he points out “the expansion and intensification of control ends up producing the opposite.” 22.

In a simplified translation of the risk control referred to by Beck et al 22, if applied to street food, it could result in its exact opposite, when Calaresu & Heuvel point out that the forms of regulation and regulation of street commerce, in modern times, exert a deteriorating effect on the sale of street food. Scientists have identified state legislation and the role of taxation and licensing as guilty of the marginal position of many sellers. 3.

It is in this sense that researchers from the field of Social and Human Sciences entered the investigation of the street food trade, from the perspective of looking from another angle, possibly opposed to the biomedical one, as a social and cultural fact, debasing distinct understandings that make it possible, for example, to reveal, in between the lines, subjective and nebulous aspects around this activity.

An analysis of street food in Mexico has described vendors as “historically associated with urban disorder, accusing them of being unhygienic and contributing to congestion in cities.” 24. The author argued, based on Mary Douglas, about dirt as something out of place, which indicates the existence of a social order in which dirt plays a symbolic role in maintaining social boundaries.

The predominance of this computer-based thought rests street food in a place of social denudation, in line with the oppressive movement, which includes political and police power to discipline and conceive it in the space of cities. This type of “police dictatorship” has been practiced since the Colonial Era, in the figure of the “sanitary prosecutor” in order to promote the cleaning of the streets.

Street food scholars have revealed micropolitics of extortion, denoting an attempt to criminalize the activity. Anjaria argues that in Mumbai, for managers and part of the population, street vendors have become a “disturbance of public order” because, because they work on the street, they are involved in an activity that contradicts the universal ideals supposed to the dream of modern public space.” 25.

Etzold 26 highlighted factors such as disorder, precarious conditions of poverty and hygiene linked to the stages of processing and sale of food on the streets, which make the vendor the target of these micropolitics. In Brazil, Magalhães 23 described that “notions related to safety and safe food anchored the 'disciplinary' process of behavior in this trade”.

These actions persist in the XXI century, in the consensual political-advertising partnership, translated in the access to income and better quality of life, the targets of the projects of asepsis, social cleaning, surveillance, privatization and urban control are always the the poor, especially those who live on the streets: street vendors, street dwellers, prostitutes, drug addicts, etc." 27.

The "forced" re-reading of urban spaces resounded on city workers, especially street vendors, who were forced to restructure when they had economic means or were marginalized toward suburban roads.

It tries to point out that the lifestyle, which is linked to street food, is often not interpreted by its participants under the pathological signs, on the contrary, can be translated as means of satisfaction, pleasure and victory in the daily battle. Going beyond, it may even represent the achievement of 'freedom' for an individual who can 'earn a living' out of the privatized sphere.

In addition to the individual, the social core, there is now an imperative to assent to the “culturally accepted” risks, gradually as specialists reveal them, in relation to the consumption of certain food, for example street food, fast-food, are foods that are re-classified as 'unhealthy' by the Health Sciences, but alternatively remain occupying a central position in the structures of modern commensality.

Thus, the street food is transformed, along the reflexivity that is focused on the postmodern context, to satisfy more the individual than the State itself. Revisiting Beck et al, this transmutation reveals a characteristic conflict of the time of risk. “This conflict is undermining and eroding the political coordinates of the old industrial society, that is, ideological, cultural, economic, and political antagonisms that group around the safe/unsafe dichotomy and try to distinguish one from the other.” 22.

In the direction of an individual choice for the modern meanings included in the quality, of a healthy and protected eating, the food that transits from the domestic scene to the cities approaches the hygiene and the standards of hygiene acceptable for consumption. Or, in the opposite direction, traditional street food, such as acarajé, for example, is subjected to a kind of technological reconditioning, in its freeze-dried rereading, in modern industrial society, to transit from the street and to serve the public of restaurants and/or enter the home environment.

Another way to make a resurgence, to make a gourmet move, that is, as they begin to go through restaurants in the street, under the nickname of the great chefs, in itinerant kitchens/trailers - street making restructurings - furnished with artifacts gastronomic technologies that optimize space and offer a rereading of foods.

In the wake of this economic technology, this food that caters to other social classes and is born into a so-called “developed” world adds food truck nomenclature. However, its origin, its structure and its actors have roots and reasons that disclose the genealogical essence of the street food. In the touristic sense, it meets the gastronomic ideal, in the sense of order personifies gentrification in street food and has occupied any urban spaces, presented in this kitchen on wheels.

Street kitchens are then redefined by the elements of a modernity, which is oriented towards the consumer society, the service to the individualisms, which this institution attributes, the speed of information and the virtual experimentation of the global, which transposes local. A modernity that evolves to the liquidity of constructions and ephemeral deconstructions, according to Bauman:

The hallmark of modernity is the expansion of the volume and scope of mobility, and therefore, inevitably, weakening the influence of locality and local networks of interaction. More or less for the same reason, modernity is also an era of supralocal wholeness, of “imagined communities” oriented or aspirated, of nation building - and of “composite”, postulated, or constructed cultural identities. 28.

This movement is thus perceived as yet another attempt to maintain the cultural superiority of developed nations, the ideal of a clean and organized city, as a model of excellence. In this context, the reintroduction of the culture of gourmandise now inhabits the street, which becomes the stage of sociability - an illustrative expression of the modernity that can be offered in the eyes of others - and gradually the role of commensality, around the world, as the fashions that occupy their space in this urban territory.

De Certeau comments on this transport of things and people from one continent to another, how this transit made each regional cuisine lose its internal coherence, “that spirit of economy whose ingenuity inventiveness and rigor were all its strength; in its turn and its place, what remains is only a succession of ‘typical dishes’, whose origin and function we no longer have the possibility of understanding”. 29.

He also adds, “A thousand supposed kitchens make simplified exotic dishes in our cities, adapted to our previous habits and the laws of the market. This is how we eat the fragments of local cultures that melt away..." 29. They are fragments of culture, which are ingredients of the new menu of street food, enjoyed by an audience, which mostly differs from the usual.

“A thousand supposed kitchens make simplified exotic dishes in our cities, adapted to our previous habits and the laws of the market. This is how we eat the fragments of local cultures that melt away..." 29. They are fragments of culture, which are ingredients of the new menu of street food, enjoyed by an audience, which mostly differs from the usual.

In this way, mediated under a different perspective, this new street food constitutes another type of food, which is said to be “street food” only because of locality, since the artifact and the investment instilled in these recent experiments arise within of a policy of legalization and affirmation that distorts and attempts to overcome the simplicity in the origin of street food that coexists in the recesses of urban invisibility. The food truck can also be understood as the modern “gentrified” street food.

When revisiting modern and contemporary writers, who add a dense body of studies on food as a cultural construct, from the twentieth century, it is observed that they attribute notoriety to the bond that street food establishes with the local identity of a community. The institution of a symbolic system around the street food brings, therefore, other dimensions of what they call “street food”.

Scholars such as Solomon 30, have emphasized that sensory-spatial qualities define the place of food on the streets. In Bangkok, for example, Isaacs 31 characterized street food as a powerful flavoring of social life, because it is instilled in the formation of taste. Caldersu & Heuvel, in turn, recount that author Richard Johnson has launched the book “Street Food Revolution” in which he proclaims food vendors as new food heroes, highlighting the dishes and history of these individual vendors. 3.

In these experiences, cities become edible, since street food metaphysically incorporates the urban space, serving it not only for touristic purposes, but also as a sign of the local tradition - the picturesque. Thus, knowing not only what is consumed in that locality, but also the ways of doing and serving, integrate postmodern social markers.

In this way street food in its traditional molds, signified as picturesque, constitutes a means of urban regeneration and nostalgic for the genuine street culture lost in the ideal of gentrification and “touristification” of the street markets. However, the extent to which ‘traditional’ street vendors have participated in the growth of the tourism industry can not be underestimated; a Mexican taco merchant, confessed that he had deliberately miswritten his signage to attract tourists. 3.

In the fluid and reflexive universe, the street food, at the same time, the producer of modernity, due to its patrimonial face that evokes the traditional and identity of the commensality in the global world, finds itself compelled to the paradox by other elements of the modern, like the ideal by gentrification. This complex web of understandings about street food rests on the emergence of a culture, which Bauman classifies as liquid modernity, “which has clients to seduce” 15, into an ephemeral movement of innovation and renewal.

In the organization and reflections of the present topic, the street food instituted complex social phenomenon, when it is recognized in the international scenario, navigates between the uncomfortable visibility, that condemned it as unfeasible food, passes through the movement of incorporation, by the restructuring of its practices through the State, to transmute itself into the late modern reflexivity by dissolving and restructuring understandings of itself establishing in urban commensality by molding itself into the perception of “street food”, as a space repaginated and incorporated into contemporary culture.

5. A Conclusion

In this reflection the trade of food in the urban space was problematized, translated in the complex phenomenon of the street food, that was unveiled from the Antiquity and acquired institutional contours when structuring itself social, economically and culturally with the advent of the modern society, under which it acts as a resigning element, but at the same time it reshapes itself in the recurrent transformations of this Modernity, in which concerns Western.

It was understood that, throughout the Modern Era, street food transposed the barrier of the trivial urban commerce, which crowded the streets of the old European cities and of the colonies, on the shoulders of slaves of gains or freed women previously enslaved, reaffirming itself as means of personal and collective subsistence, part of the history of several peoples, a mark of local identity, and of structural transformations, especially in the economic and cultural sense.

In the origin of the "street" qualification, in its pejorative denotation, the close relation with the changes occurred in the terrain of the urban commensality, which was primarily conceived with the advent of the institutionalization of the eating and the emergence of the salaried class, consequence of the capitalist system.

Other aspects that appear in modernity are consistent with a polysemy of meanings in the understanding of the expression and the very materialization of what is conceived street food, while that transits between public-private spaces and vice versa, in their structuring in around the street and outside it, in the city, and the activities of selling food practiced in that space. It could be said that street food is a producer and at the same time it is produced by modernity.

The cyclical itineraries that the representations of street food have traversed throughout history reveal the antagonism that carries the phenomenon from its pejorative face to the vital and transcultural component it represents, just like any other food choice, is not confined to mere objective or physical analysis of food, above all plunges into the intersubjective and symbolic universe of human individualities, which are the hallmarks of this modernity.

Acknowledgements

The Foundation for Support and Research in the State of Bahia, Fapesb, for granting scholarship for research development during the doctorate course.

Declaration of Competing Interests

The authors do not have conflicting interests.

Notes

1. Institutions are practices that "stretch" over long spatial distances in the reproduction of social systems. The structural practices of social systems "link" the temporality of the daily life to the longitude of institutions, interpolated in the finite space of existence of the human being 6.

2. Magalhães 23 described the fried bean cake in its translation as the 'fireball', made of beans, salt and onion, which became one of the symbols of the food culture of the state of Bahia.

3. As Beck means "a new stage in which progress can turn into self-destruction, in which one kind of modernization destroys another and modifies it." 22.

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Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2019 Gizane Ribeiro de Santana and Lígia Amparo-Santos

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Normal Style
Gizane Ribeiro de Santana, Lígia Amparo-Santos. Institutionalization of Street Food in the Modern Urban Space: Conformations, Tensions and Conflicts. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research. Vol. 7, No. 6, 2019, pp 465-475. http://pubs.sciepub.com/jfnr/7/6/9
MLA Style
Santana, Gizane Ribeiro de, and Lígia Amparo-Santos. "Institutionalization of Street Food in the Modern Urban Space: Conformations, Tensions and Conflicts." Journal of Food and Nutrition Research 7.6 (2019): 465-475.
APA Style
Santana, G. R. D. , & Amparo-Santos, L. (2019). Institutionalization of Street Food in the Modern Urban Space: Conformations, Tensions and Conflicts. Journal of Food and Nutrition Research, 7(6), 465-475.
Chicago Style
Santana, Gizane Ribeiro de, and Lígia Amparo-Santos. "Institutionalization of Street Food in the Modern Urban Space: Conformations, Tensions and Conflicts." Journal of Food and Nutrition Research 7, no. 6 (2019): 465-475.
Share
[1]  Sennett, R., O declínio do homem público. As tiranias da intimidade [The fall of public man], translated by Lygia Araújo, Record, Rio de Janeiro, 2014.
In article      
 
[2]  Giddens, A., As consequências da modernidade [The consequences of modernity], translated by Raul Fiker. Unesp Foundation, São Paulo, 1991.
In article      
 
[3]  Calaresu, M., D.V.D. Heuvel., Introduction: Food hawkers from representation to reality. In: M. Calaresu and D.V.D. Heuvel (eds), Food hawkers: Selling in the streets from Antiquity to the presente (The history of retailing and consumption), Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 2016.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[4]  Holleran. C., Representations of food hawkers in ancient Rome. In: Calaresu, M., D.V.D. Heuvel (eds), Food hawkers: Selling in the streets from Antiquity to the presente (The history of retailing and consumption). Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 2016.
In article      
 
[5]  Krohn, D. L., Quodlibets and fricassées food and musical settings of street cries in early modern London. In: Calaresu, M., D.V.D. Heuvel (eds), Food hawkers: Selling in the streets from Antiquity to the presente (The history of retailing and consumption), Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 2016.
In article      
 
[6]  Giddens, A., A contemporary critique of historical materialism. Vol. 1 Power, property and state. Berkeley and Los Angels: University of California Press, 1981.
In article      
 
[7]  Elias, N., O processo civilizador vol 1. Uma história dos costumes [The civilizing process: The history of manners], translated by Ruy Jungman, Jorge Zahar, Rio de Janeiro, 1989.
In article      
 
[8]  Carneiro, H., Comida e Sociedade. Uma história da alimentação [Food and society: a history of feeding], Elsevier, Rio de Janeiro, 2003.
In article      
 
[9]  Heuvel, D.V.D., Selling in the shadows: peddlers and hawkers in early modern europe. In: Calaresu, M., D.V.D. Heuvel (eds), Food hawkers: Selling in the streets from Antiquity to the presente (The history of retailing and consumption). Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 2016.
In article      
 
[10]  Pitte, J.P., Nascimento dos restaurantes [The rise of the restaurant]. In: Flandrin, J-L. and M. Montanari (eds), Food: A culinary history, Estação Liberdade, São Paulo, 1998.
In article      
 
[11]  Lousada, M.A., Sobre a alimentação popular urbana no início do século XIX: tabernas e casas de pasto lisboetas [On popular urban feeding in the early nineteenth century: taverns and Lisbon houses]. In: Serrão, J.V. (eds), Economic development and social change. Portugal in the last two centuries. Tribute to Miriam Halpern Pereira. ICS, Lisboa, 2009.
In article      
 
[12]  Eloy, A.L.S., R.R.V. Reis, A comida de rua como ferramenta na preservação dos alimentos tradicionais [Street food as a tool for the preservation of traditional foods], Anais I Seminar on food and traditional cultural events. GROUPS. Federal University of Sergipe: São Cristóvão, May 21-23, 2012.
In article      
 
[13]  Ferreira-Filho, A.H., Desafricanizar as ruas: elites letradas, mulheres pobres e cultura popular em Salvador (1890-1937) [Deafricanization the streets: literate elites, poor women and Popular culture in Salvador (1890-1937)], Revista Afro-Asia, 21-22, 1998-1999, 1999, 239-256.
In article      
 
[14]  Bauman, Z., Modernidade líquida [Liquid modernity], translated by Plínio Dentzien, Zahar, Rio de Janeiro, 2001.
In article      
 
[15]  Bauman, Z. (2013). A cultura no mundo líquido moderno [Culture in a liquid modern world], translated by Carlos Alberto Medeiros, Zahar, Rio de Janeiro, 2013.
In article      
 
[16]  Calloni, M., Street food on themove: A socio-philosophical approach. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 93, 2013, 3406-3413.
In article      View Article  PubMed
 
[17]  Da Matta, R., O que faz o brasil, Brasil? [What Makes Bazil What is Is?], Rocco, Rio de Janeiro, 1986.
In article      
 
[18]  Bauman, Z., Modernidade e ambivalência [Modernity and ambivalence], translated by Marcus Penchel, Zahar, Rio de Janeiro, 1999.
In article      
 
[19]  Smith, N., The New urban frontier. Genrtification and the revanchist city. Routledge, London and New York, 1996
In article      
 
[20]  De Certeau, M., A invenção do cotidiano 1. Artes de fazer [The practice of everyday life], translated by Ephraim Ferreira Alves. Vozes, Petropólis, 2014.
In article      
 
[21]  Winarno, F.G., Proceedings: Regional Workshop on street foods in Asia, Jogjakarta, Indonesia. November 3-7, Bogor: Institut Pertanian, Food Technology Developement Center, 1986.
In article      
 
[22]  Beck, U., A. Giddens, S. Lash., Modernização reflexiva. Política, tradição e estética na ordem social moderna [Reflective modernization. Politics, tradition and aesthetics in the modern social order], Unesp, São Paulo, 2012.
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