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In Defense of "Dignified" Street Food

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 10, 2008 8:35PM

2008_01_edge.jpgIn last month's edition of The New Republic an article by Steve Pinker quoted Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council of Bioethics (which recently published a 555-page conservative tome called Human Dignity and Bioethics), as saying of street food:

"Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone--a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. ... Eating on the street ... displays [a] lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly. ... Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. ... This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if we feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior."

Food writer John T. Edge, while returning home from last Month's Southern Foodways Alliance road trip to Chicago, also read that and it really grabbed him by the short hairs, refusing to let go. So Edge wrote in defense of street food in his most recent blog at The example Edge cites in defense of street food? The Italian beef sandwich, citing Al's, Chickie's (2839 S. Pulaski) and Johnnie's (7500 W. North, Elmwood Park) as great places to grab a beef and have it dipped. We can't complain with those.