Archive for August, 2012

Street Food in Helsinki

Nene Tsuboi and Åbäke have been working on a project entitled Unbuilt Helsinki, carefully digging up bits of the city that were planned but never made, and presenting them back to us in the form of installations and other experiments. We have lots of interests in common, so I was not surprised when they came to us asking about the street food work that we’ve been engaged in. One of the Unbuilt Helsinki subjects are the city’s ubiquitous grilli kioskis, our hotdog stands.

Untitled

As Nene and Benjamin prepare their grilli-themed installation for the Flow Festival, I wanted to share the street food missive that I contributed to the poster announcing their work. Here’s what the poster looks like in full technicolor:

The poster features unbuilt grilli kioski designs rendered in custom Meccano parts. They’re pretty great little things that look like this:

You can see them at Flow. And in the meantime, here’s the text:

The most visible food in the streets of Helsinki today has already passed through the human body and been reborn into the world as site specific installations of urine and temporary constructions of vomit. While we’re a city that’s comfortable with pissing in the street, eating is puzzlingly hidden. It’s mostly reserved for the drunken stumble to a grilli (which everyone hopes to forget the next morning) and slurping porridge in a tori (where one is hidden amongst the ubiquitous orange tarps).

Despite Helsinki’s architectural commentary by bodily function we have all the right ingredients for an urban culinary renaissance. In 2012 Nordic food is the envy of the world and Helsinki’s specific architectural heritage gifts it a variety of iconic lippakioskis and grilli structures waiting to be linked into a city-wide network of grub hubs. If only they served something worth remembering.

Oh but they will! Bring on the curry siika, poro bratwurst, and birch soda. This is anything but a trend. It’s a sign of a culture that embraces diversity, in a meal and on the street. Street food is about relearning how to make the city our own not just for occasional festivals but a real—and really delicious—part of everyday life.