Street snack

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  • A woman counts out coins to purchase a grilled corn-on-the-cob from street vendor, Josim, at Porte de Choisy in Paris. Josim is from Bangladesh, but he’s been in France for a few years. He’s been selling food on the street for much of that time, he told me.

    As we chat a steady stream of people come up and choose the roasted corn they want. It’s a quick exchange, and there’s surprisingly little eye contact. Josim passes me one. “You must,” he says, so of course I take it. Another customer passes me the salt and when I indicate that I don’t want salt he just dumps a load on my corn anyway. “Better,” says my fellow customer without looking at me. I think he’s right too, maybe with a little salt it is better.

    We’re at a tram stop, bus stop and a metro station, it’s busy here, a good opportunity to make a little money. Nearby a man sells fruit and not far away there’s a man and woman selling roasted chestnuts. Just on other side of the tram tracks someone else selling roasted corn.

    Trams come and go, their doors open and people spill out onto the platform as others squeeze their way inside. New customers walk up, say very little, hand over their coins, and quickly walk off with the warm corn wrapped in a napkin.

    Josim makes about 50€ a day. “It changes. Never knowing how much. Sometime can make maybe 100, 198, 195, sometime much less, maybe 25, 30 only,” he tells me as he turns the corn over and fans the coals with a newspaper.

    I snap a few more pictures then reach into my pocket for the 1€ I owe Josim. “No no,” he says, waving his hand. “Free sample.” he insists, and with that he gives me a moment of eye contact and a brief smile before another customer walks up.

    Stand where this picture was taken using Google street view.

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