Eat street food without getting sick
We have all fantasized about enjoying a heavenly Crème Brule at the Pierre Gagnaire, Paris or sipping some sophisticated High Tea at the Russian Tea Room, NYC but there is no better way to live and experience the culture of a city than relishing its unique street food.
Jodi Ettenberg, the founder of Legal Nomads, who in her own words, “eats soup for a living”, describes street food as a rewarding and intensive lens through which a traveler can soak in the sights and sounds of a mysterious place. Beyond being an exotic culinary experience, eating local food from the street is also easy on the pockets of a traveler and saves a lot of time otherwise wasted in waiting for the order to arrive or the wine to be refilled in fancy restaurants.
All you need to do is learn how to eat right from the street. Here’ a quick guide to make sure you can eat street food without getting sick:
Check the booth’s popularity
The public knows the best and when it comes to determining the safety of a local food stall and people are seldom wrong. Picking the local food booth with the longest queue is usually a safe bet that the food is hygienic, well prepared and most importantly, delicious. Beyond the length of the line, also look for the kind of customers the booth caters to. Stalls with a lot of female or young customers are usually reliable in terms of food quality.
Go for hubs closer to schools
This is a trick which never fails. Students, young or old, are a hungry, like a lot, and hence, most universities and colleges are surrounded by economical and clean food stalls that serve amazing food. So, if you’re traveling to a city for the first time all by yourself, look for its famous colleges and schools and gorge on the delicious street food available around them.
Opt for open kitchens
What better way to ensure the quality of food you’re eating than looking directly at the kitchen it is made in? Food stalls with an open kitchen or with a transparent wall not only help you make sure the ingredients and cutlery used for cooking are A-Okay but you also get to watch the amazing procedure of a foreign cuisine being made.
Eat with the locals
This one’s a no brainer, after all who knows the local cuisine better than the people who prepare and eat it on a regular basis. If you already have friends in the city you’re traveling to or are able to make friends with some locals, go out with them to enjoy some delightful street food. If you like to keep things on the loner side, just keep an eye out for the stalls most locals frequent to and the timings at which they visit them.
Some things are strict No-Nos
We know, we know. Traveling is all about pushing the boundaries, exploring new horizons and Livin’ La Vida Loca. But, when it comes to experimenting with street food some things are a strict no-no. If you notice any of these marks at a local food booth, turn around and walk away:
- Use of dirty cutlery
- Using dirty water/ice blocks or cubes
- Use of produce which looks stale
- Eating or using fruit without peeling
- Sauces that look musty or recycled
Fully cooked FTW
Although steaks done rare and fresh made Sushi have charms of its own but while eating local, go for fully cooked meals For the Win (FTW). High temperatures destroy microbes and bacteria present in food ingredients. Hence, deep fried or brown-toasted meals are usually safe to eat and easy for your stomach to handle.
Seeing delicious street food is sure to make anyone’s stomach rumble in hunger. Use these tips to eat street food without getting sick. Pick the right stalls and eat at the right times to enjoy the local flavors of your travel exploits to the fullest. Bon Voyage!
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