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Visa Street Food Festival // approaching food with a playful yet critical consciousness

The Visa Street Food Festival has put together a party for your tastebuds in September with Cape Town and Johannesburg playing host to a celebration of street food prepared by some of the country’s best chefs and food makers. Think vinegary fish and slapchips, and the best braai, straight off the fire. This experience includes a new night market in Cape Town as well as the Visa Food Studio conference focusing on the business of food that will take place at the end of August.

The fourth edition of this festival will start off in Cape Town at Side Street Studios in Woodstock on the 2nd of September with the launch of the night market, and will continue on the 3rd with a day of street food, DJs and free talks. On the 10th the festival will move over to Johannesburg and will take place at the Common Ground in Maboneng.

Considering that the consumption of street food is an experiential activity, as well as the fact that the festival taps into South African food culture, we highlight the parallels between the food festival and Johannesburg food culture.

Image via Visa Street Food Festival

With our lives getting busier, people are constantly looking for easy, accessible food and drink to consume. Food that does not take long to prepare or eat. This is a contributing factor towards millennials being drawn to street and market food. Street and market food is the perfect alternative to cafes, restaurants and fast food outlets. This speaks to their interest in re-imagining traditions, as well as ties into their health, environmental and political consciousness.

In conjunction with busy lives, consumers have embraced a holistic approach to looking after their health and well-being, including combining scientific and natural answers to create tailored lifestyle plans. Part of this is being more critical of where and how food products are produced. This can be seen with the popularity of organic food products in big food stores as well as among smaller suppliers. With food and drink producers recognizing this shift in culinary thinking among consumers, disseminating  knowledge has becoming part and parcel of the culinary experiences that consumers are presented with. Street and market vendors share with consumers the stories behind their products, including connections with local suppliers, where and how their produce is grown as well as thinking about the spiritual significance of food consumption.

Image via Visa Street Food Festival

Connected to this is the recognition that consumers are formulating monetary value based on their social and political values, as well as the value that they place on relationships and community. Therefore, value is calculated beyond function and price. This once again highlights the need for transparency in the process of food production.

Tying all of this together is the popularity of enjoyable and novel activities that are geared towards shared experiences. This creates more meaningful connections with food consumption, with the sharing of food and drinks an acknowledgement of the time spent together. By being involved in experiential activities with others, people can network, catch up and learn. This is important for young people as work is often intertwined with their social lives. These experiences also allow consumers to have direct contact with independent producers who without these platforms would never be able to enjoy their foods and drinks.

The Visa Street Food Festival is an experience which amalgamates these approaches to thinking about and experiencing food and drink. The participants at this year’s festival embrace this new wave, as they contribute towards the positive impact that celebrating South African food culture and approaching food with a more critical eye has had on our consciousness.

Image via Visa Street Food Festival

Johannesburgers can look forward to Crate Talks with some of our favourites, including Dawood Petersen who co-founded Mamasan, a Cape Malay inspired restaurant in Johannesburg, as well as Gary Kurt Smith from Kotze Rooftop Garden Project among others. Along with these conversations, your tastebuds will be entertained with food from vendors such as ALS CHUCK WAGON for the carnivores and SA’s first true pop-up ice cream parlour, The Knickerbocker Ice cream Company for those with a sweet tooth.

Capetownians will be introduced to writer and home cook Nobhongo Gxolo from the monthly food club Third Culture Experiment, as well as cake designer Nikki Albertyn and others. Vendors include Tao’s Yum Dim Sum will bring spring rolls and an assortment of dumplings for those looking for Asian inspired flavours as well as treats from the online-based Pâtisserie Studio, LionHeart.

Get your tickets for the Street Food Festival online now.

Image via Visa Street Food Festival

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