Government Regulations Suppress Poor Street Entrepreneurs

(p. 7) HANOI, Vietnam — As strips of tofu sizzle beside her in a vat of oil, Nguyen Thu Hong listens for police sirens.
Police raids on sidewalk vendors have escalated sharply in downtown Hanoi since March [2017], she said, and officers fine her about $9, or two days’ earnings, for the crime of selling bun dau mam tom — vermicelli rice noodles with tofu and fermented shrimp paste — from a plastic table beside an empty storefront.
“Most Vietnamese live by what they do on the sidewalk, so you can’t just take that away,” she said. “More regulations would be fine, but what the cops are doing now feels too extreme.”
Southeast Asia is famous for its street food, delighting tourists and locals alike with tasty, inexpensive dishes like spicy som tam (green papaya salad) in Bangkok or sizzling banh xeo crepes in Ho Chi Minh City. But major cities in three countries are strengthening campaigns to clear the sidewalks, driving thousands of food vendors into the shadows and threatening a culinary tradition.
. . .
. . . some experts say street food is not inherently less sanitary than restaurant food. “If you’re eating fried foods or things that are really steaming hot, then there’s probably not much difference at all,” said Martyn Kirk, an epidemiologist at the Australian National University.
. . .
Ms. Hong, the Hanoi vendor, said her earnings had cratered by about 60 percent since the start of the crackdown, when she moved to her present location from a busy street corner as a hedge against police raids.

For the full story, see:
MIKE IVES. “Food So Popular, Asian Cities Want It Off the Streets.” The New York Times, First Section (Sun., APRIL 30, 2017): 7.
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date APRIL 29, 2017, and has the title “Efforts to Ease Congestion Threaten Street Food Culture in Southeast Asia.”)

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