When traveling, it's easy to put off street food, especially in developing nations - either by the lack of familiarity, the seemingly different hygiene standards or a bad prior experience.
These are some of the rules that have helped me when travelling around countries with rich street food.
To miss out on the experience is a shame, as some of the best dishes, most reflective of the country and the people are to be found on the sidewalks and markets.
Do you have any suggestions to add?
Food Safety: these rules are simple and will serve you well:
- Observe the general hygiene of the vendor’s trade but accept that napkins and such accumulate at your feet during peek hours, but are cleaned up regularly.
- In Asian countries, using communal chopsticks will not kill you, wipe them down with a napkin as locals do and carry on. Knives are never provided. Use your fingers if you must.
- A busy trade indicates a stamp of approval from the locals, look out for places with lines or a quick turn around. Look out especially for mothers with children waiting for food as well as high volume lunchtime traffic.
- Food made in front of you, example grilled meat, deep-fried spring rolls, pancakes, and sandwiches should be your first bet. Soups are usually well heated so to me the same principal applies. I try to avoid fried or cooked food that's been standing around for a while.
- If I see too many flies gathering around, I'd rather avoid it.
- Accept that tap water is used to cook the food and clean the dishes. Boiling kills the bacteria you aren’t accustomed to. Stick to bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth.
- It’s okay for a vendor to cut fruit for you, though the knives often look like they’ve seen better days. Wipe the skins of mangoes and avoid cut fruit that’s been standing around.
- Point to your chosen dish and indicate with your fingers how many portions you’d like.
- Keep a well-stocked medical kit with you, for emergencies. Clinics for foreigners in Vietnam for example are expensive but top rate so don't worry in case you have a real emergency.
- Portable wet wipes don't take up much space and are necessary for wiping your hands after handling money, dirty surfaces and add a refreshing post-meal burst of freshness.
Travel Tips Shared by Food & the Fabulous