SLOW FAST FOOD NETWORK (Street Food and Art for Social Change) 

The Slow Fast Food Network is an online global platform where I3C invites street food vendors and people who love these sometimes intriguing foods to share photos, videos, and ideas about the ways in which street food enriches our daily lives and the experiences of our habitats.

Though many people might not realize it, street food has important social benefits. It fills the public space with aromas and flavors that create ever more delicious, friendlier, and livable cities. The Slow Fast Food Network is inspired by the vision of the global network of food producers and lovers Slow Food International( about the importance of preserving local food traditions and grounded conceptually in the academic research conducted by Nadezhda Savova, I3C Founder and PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology atPrinceton University (, showing how street food culture in Cuba and Brazil in particular, as well as street food in general, often helps preserve local intangible cultural heritage and facilitates social relations across economic classes and ethnic groups.

Therefore, street food, though often negatively looked down on as “fast food”, could be re-considered “slow food” within the values promoted by Slow Food International in the sense that it often brings strangers closer together with its aromas, colors, and tastes, uniting various people around the common, make-shift space (whether a cart, bicycle, or just a tray) and thus enables a unique form of public, street “commensality” where people do not necessarily share a physical table but do exchange smiles, emotions, humor, regular chats and even long-term friendships.

The birth-day of the idea about the Slow Fast Food Network of street food vendors and lovers was August 28th, 2010, at the Bread House Cultural Center in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, during the First Summer School of Arts and Sciences for Sustainability in Social Transformation (ASSiST),, which took place between August 21st and 28th, 2010. ASSiST brought together about 30 experts, scholars and artists, from all continents to work together for 7 days on new methodologies of research, project-development and community work integrating art and ecology.  ASSiST was co-organized by I3C and the International network of scholars and artists linking ecology and art Cultura 21 (

The Bread House Cultural Center in Gabrovo housed one of the workshops during ASSiST examining street food as a practice that links ecology and art to create tastier urban places and landscapes. As part of Nadezhda’s workshop, the international group of experts painted a street food cart in bright colors and with a hedgehog set on fire due to his sprinting: a satirical look on “fast food” that in this case is inverted to become “slow fast food”. The image of the hedgehog comes from the name of the children’s art program at the Bread House called HedgeHope, playing with the words to “hop over a hedge” and to “have hope despite the hedge”.  Using the running hedgehog as a symbol of the Slow Fast Food net in a similar way in which Slow Food International uses the snail as a sign of slower pace of eating and living.

One possible and open to modifications and additions definition of street food includes:

 "Street food within the "Slow Fast Food Network" is considered any food that is a) prepared/cooked in the street on a make-shift/movable construction (carts, tables, etc); and b) food sold directly on the street or through mobile means around the city, even if not cooked on the street side but raw or prepared at home, as is the case of fruit, vegetables, nuts, home sweets, home-made drinks (selling soda drinks is not considered street food, but home-made drinks are), etc. The main characteristic of street food is that it can and usually is eaten right away, in the street. To distinguish a street food vendor of egetables and fruits from a market vendor, the characteristic is that the street food vendor is mobile/moving around and often performing songs and pranks related to the food to attract customers and thus making the street atmosphere more lively and rich in tastes and sounds. The street food could be a traditional kind of food, prepared and/or sold for years, or new creations, and the Slow Fast Food Network encourages the innovation with street foods that are ever more ecological and healthy, helping people to rethink their food habits and turn ever more towards slow food and home cooking, even if every now and then they munch on street food, which is often not very healthy (and considered "fast" in a way) but contributes its own special "slow" value by creating more flavorful and friendly habitats, where people stop their busy pace for a street bite, shared by rich and poor, illiterate and educated, young and old. "