You are on page 1of 1
Testimony of Dave Cook Photojournalist, www.EatingInTranslation.com Street food vendors live in all five boroughs of New York City, and they run their small businesses in neighborhoods in all five boroughs, too. In many of these neighborhoods, especially once you travel outside the most heavily trafficked areas of Midtown and Lower Manhattan, the character of the vendors reflects the character of the community. This should be little surprise, since so many of these vendors do business close to home. This affinity, between street food vendors and their communities, isn't simply a matter of what's on the menu, although the variety of street food in New York may be unmatched anywhere else in the world. You can taste Jamaican jerk chicken, Dominican habichuelas con dulee, Bangladeshi jhal muri, Ecuadorian llapingachos, Nepalese momos, Mexican nieves, Chinese cheung fun, and other dishes representing dozens of national and regional cuisines, provided that you're in the right place. And at the right time: Much as coffee-and-donut carts in the morning give way to hotdog stands in the afternoon and evening, these vendors do business on the rhythm of their neighborhoods. Like other small businesses, street food vendors don't simply offer a reflection of their communities. They also serve as stakeholders in their communities. The best-established vendors ~ the ones whose own right to do business is secure, and who can confidently operate in plain sight, on a regular schedule ~ often function much like mobile mom-and-pop stores. They provide a reliable place where neighbors can meet up with one another, speak the language that, they speak at home, share the local news, and keep watch on neighborhood goings-on. The most- celebrated of these vendors attract new business to their communities, not only from culinary adventurers, but also from residents and tourists in search of the real New York ~ the one with all the local color that they can’t find anywhere else. By raising the number of permits, by streamlining enforcement, and by recognizing the different needs of different neighborhoods, the Street Vendor Modemization Act will provide new ies for vendors and help ensure that they continue to contribute to their communities.