The food porn chefs on TV know almost nothing about food safety; those seeking to avoid city licensing may know even less.
A reporter from the New York Times is the latest to discover and glorify San Francisco’s underground dining scene,
The underground market seeks to encourage food entrepreneurship by helping young vendors avoid roughly $1,000 a year in fees — including those for health permits and liability insurance — required by legitimate farmers markets. Here, where the food rave — call it a crave — was born, the market organizers sidestep city health inspections by operating as a private club, requiring that participants become “members” (free) and sign a disclaimer noting that food might not be prepared in a space that has been inspected.
Fueled by Twitter and food blogs, the market has spawned a host of underground imitators in places like Washington and Atlanta, where about 1,000 people showed up for the first of a series of monthly Saturday night craves — and where Tim Ho, a young Taiwanese-American who cooks part-time, boasted that his jellyfish salad has a crunch he compared to “tendons and ligaments.” There are outposts as far as London and Amsterdam.
Even mainstream farmers markets are creeping toward nighttime, including a Friday evening market in Nashville near the State Capitol where homeward-bound workers can drink wine as they chat about kale.
Some see the growth of the underground markets as part of a high renaissance of awareness for a Fast Food Nation generation, with its antipathy for the industrial food machine. In the recesses of the markets, a certain self-expressive, do-it-yourself “craftness” flourishes.
I just threw up a little.