Street food is often some of the most delicious and authentic cuisine you can find. It can be a bit intimidating but if you know what to look for, it is well worth it.
5. Know Local Ingredients
Usually, when eating street food, you're going to want the local cuisine of that area. Well, here’s something to think about, local cuisines require local ingredients. Learn what fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices grow in whatever region of the world you are in. The freshest ingredients will always have the potential for the best food. If you eat meat, you should also be aware of what animals are locally farmed. In Thailand for example, cows are not farmed often due to the high amount of resources they consume. Thus, you may find that if you order beef in Thailand, it may not be the most pleasant experience. Chicken on the other hand, are farmed throughout the country and you can find some of the best chicken dishes in the world in Thailand street markets. It's also important to know what's in season and what is currently growing in the region.
4. Don’t Go Looking for Something You Know
Even if you're a great cook and you've done a lot of traveling, chances are you don't know every local dish you can find. If you go searching only for your favorite dish, you'll miss out on a lot of opportunities. When I visit street markets, I like to check out all the stands to see what they offer before I really order anything. The only reason I would suggest not doing this is if you are a traveler with a lot of allergies.
3. The Best Foods are on Sticks
I don't understand why, but for some reason, the best foods at international street markets are usually on sticks. I'm not sure if the experience of eating off the stick subconsciously makes it taste better, but there’s something to it. From dumplings to kebabs to baklava, it’s just more fun. Who knows? Maybe you'll even be able to find tacos on a stick!
2. See Where the Locals are Going
This goes for both street food and regular dining, but the locals know best. If you're visiting a friend in another city, you would ask them "where’s a good place to eat?" You would never tell them "we have to go to this restaurant I found on my phone!" If locals of the city are eating at a certain vendor, chances are it’s better than the same types of food surrounding it. That doesn’t necessarily make it the best option for food, but it can indicate that it is a very good option for the specific type of food they serve. This is a great way to choose the right street food because they may have tried many different vendors at certain markets.
1. Trust Your Gut. But More Importantly, Trust Your Nose
The reason many people are put off by street food is that they think it’s unsafe or unsanitary. I can't tell you have many times I have heard somebody say "you don't know what's in that," as a reason to not eat street food. As far as I know, most people don't go into the kitchens of restaurants they dine at, so really what’s the difference. In fact, often times you do know what's in street food because with many dishes, they make it right in front of you. Generally street food is safe, you just need to trust your instincts. But more than that, trust your senses, and one above all else. For choosing the right street food, don't have a rigid plan of what and when you'll eat at a street market. Let the aromas of food steer you towards where you'll want to go. Chances are if it smells good, it tastes good and is safe.
Hopefully this gave you a better understanding on how and why you should eat street food. It is some of the most fun cuisine and it can be enjoyed as a solo traveler, with friends, significant others, or even complete strangers. You can also check out our other article on street food by clicking here. Check out more travel tips and other articles. New content posted every week so stay tuned.