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Netflix’s ‘Street Food’ Reveals a Thriving and Threatened Culture

In cities globally, street vendors are an essential source of food and provide critical income to women but recent crackdowns are threatening this lifestyle.
A street vendor cooks food on a street in central Bangkok, Thailand. A crackdown by the military government has threatened Bangkok's lively street food culture.
A street vendor cooks food on a street in central Bangkok, Thailand. A crackdown by the military government has threatened Bangkok's lively street food culture.Mark Baker/AP

Netflix’s hit new series “Street Food” is more than a glimpse at the world’s finest street-side chefs. While other shows, most notably, Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown,” have featured the down-home goodness of street cuisine, “Street Food” may be the first to acknowledge the threat street-food vendors face in increasingly exclusionary cities.

Take Bangkok: It’s no surprise that the city’s globally beloved roadside vendors are the first featured in “Street Food.” But since 2014, Thailand’s military government has waged an open battle on the city’s street vendors, forcing workers to abandon their businesses or work in the shadows.