The culture of food alley in China can trace back to Tang Dynasty, which evolved rapidly in the Song Dynasty. The culture, tradition, and history are well preserved inside the local marketplaces which expresses the authentic flavor of a vital and generous civilization.
More often when people think of a street with food vendors, trucks, stalls, or small restaurants, they call it, the “Food Street”. But I refuse to call it in this way. I call it, the “Food Alley”.
Why Food “Alley”?
Alley is a term used to describe a narrow pathway between or behind buildings, which hardly can pass through with four people walking side by side. In China, food alleys are often found in narrow streets in old neighborhoods, “胡同”, in corners of cities. There are many food alleys, however, have been supported and developed by the city governments and become visiting sites with hundreds of thousands of visits every day. The foods serve in the food alley are called “xiaochi”, 小吃 in Chinese, and translated as “snack food” or “street food” in English. “小吃”, can be separated into words “小” and “吃”, “small” and “eat”, which literally means “small eats”.