Food History: Before there were Restaurants, there were Street Kitchens
Some form of restaurant has existed ever since humans have been eating. The phenomenon grew as large cities formed, and as people traveled on the ancient silk roads in the Middle East and China, and in the Roman Empire, often in the form of inns where one could both sleep and eat.
Street kitchens and food trucks are by no means a modern invention. Jean-Robert Pitte says in his essay “The Rise of the Restaurant”:
Throughout the world, the principal type of eating establishment has always been the street kitchen, where a person can buy a precooked dish for a modest sum. They have always existed in China and still exist throughout Asia, even in industrial and postindustrial countries such as Japan…Street restaurants are still common in Latin America and the Middle East and Africa… (from A Culinary History: Food, edited by Jean-Louis Flandrin and Massimo Montanari)