Londoners Have Been Eating Street Food Since Roman Times

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 16 months ago
Londoners Have Been Eating Street Food Since Roman Times

Love food? Join our Facebook Group, Foodie Finds, to discuss all things edible in London.

Hot peascods, a handful of periwinkles and a cup of saloop.

London's street food boom isn't actually new news. Londoners were already getting their lunch from street stalls in ye olde days.

Hot Peascods!, a City of London Corporation exhibition in Aldgate Square in 2019, focsued on the street food of London's past, stretching back to Roman times.

The exhibition featured images from the 16th to 19th centuries and included remarkable interviews with pioneering social reformer Henry Mayhew from 1850 — who roamed London's streets daily.

Back then street food wasn't exactly bougie; it was the preserve of those who couldn't afford to have cooking facilities at home, and required a quick pick-me-up before getting back to work. The saloop in question, for example, was a thrifty alternative to coffee or tea, made with orchid roots.

Halloumi fries sprinkled with pomegranate molasses was a way off.

Hot Peascods! runs in Aldgate Square from 17-29 September. On 1 October it moves to Guildhall Yard where it runs alongside a modern street food market, and stays there until 16 October.

Last Updated 19 February 2021