New German food culture
Fresh, cheap food that is bought and eaten on the street is an international phenomenon. Mobile food trucks are increasingly becoming part of this scene, too. They have been in Germany for quite some time. Sellers tour around in their converted vans offering their freshly prepared snacks somewhere else every day. The street food trend is especially popular with young people.
The food truck trend has been around in Germany since about 2008. Since then, it has been possible to quickly and easily attract large numbers of customers to the current location of the food truck via social media. Food trucks in Germany are sometimes parked in front of companies during the lunch hour or at busy spots in large German cities. And, of course, they can also be found at street food markets.
Entire food truck markets can mostly be found in the large university cities in Germany, for example, in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Cologne. But Lübeck, Nuremberg and Munich also have lots of modern food trucks. That is why more and more people now enjoy eating lunch at such a stand.
The food from a food truck is usually slightly more expensive than food in the cafeteria but is mostly freshly prepared. Students can occasionally afford an exotic dish or special treat from a food truck. Every now and again, a few universities and colleges offer a “Food Truck Day”. Look on the university’s Facebook page, for example for up-to-the-minute information.
A hot tip: The trucks are often found on campus, in front of companies with large car parks or on small squares in the city centre at midday. Eating at a food truck is not cheap, unfortunately. Be prepared to pay around EUR 8 to 9 for a burger from a food truck. However, the food is freshly prepared and nothing like the mass-produced offering in the cafeteria.
There are lots to choose from here. I got together with the Chinese exchange student Yuedi to test whether food trucks in Cologne deliver what they promise.
The Street Food Festival is the ideal place for this. For example, the food truck owners cook, roast and fry their specialities on the grounds of Helios 37 in Cologne-Ehrenfeld. ‘The event represents authentic cuisine from around the world and moves to a different German city every weekend. And the best of it is: a lot of food trucks take part.
This is where I took a culinary journey with Yuedi from China. We noticed as soon as we set off that the event appeals to all our senses: We can see the smoke from a “smoker”– a grill – rising into the air. Colourful menus are displayed everywhere and we can smell the wide range of different spices. The display windows of the food trucks are filled with tasty sandwiches or freshly-made French crepes. Spoiled for choice, we then decided to try out the “fusion food” from the Philippines, a mixture of German and Filipino cuisine.
Yuedi is 20 years old and comes from China. She already knew food trucks from her homeland and is especially pleased that this relaxed way of eating food on-the-go has also come to Germany. So, the street food market in the colourful and somewhat secluded rear courtyard of the “Helios 37” in Cologne-Ehrenfeld is perfect.
And after talking to Yuedi, we then had a great time together at the street food festival. Not only was the location – the grounds of an old factory – really urban and nicely decorated but our sample meal was exotic and tasted good. Music was playing the whole time just like a real festival and there were huge crowds of people there, all laughing, talking and eating with gusto.Fortified by our exotic fayre, we were happy and full when we left the festival grounds and ready for a stroll through the historic centre of Cologne.