10 Tips to a stress free street-food culinary experience

Every trip is an opportunity to immerse oneself in the local food culture. In many parts of Asia and South America, I have found that street food is very much part of the culture. As the diligent traveller that I have chosen to be, I always try to find a way to take part. Street food is usually served in small portions and at very economic prices. This encourages the trial of a wider variety of foods, than if one was to go to a restaurant.

I am aware that some people have opted out of street food due to legitimate fears of food poisoning. However, if you are still on the fence, I would like to offer some useful nuggets to navigate this culinary experience. These rules generally serve me well as I can count in my hands (more than 40 countries down the line) the number of times that street food has made me unwell. In each case I can trace it back to being impatient/greedy and thus ignoring one of these rules.

1. Bring hand wipes and hand sanitiser

To clean your hands before eating as there may sometimes be no water for a proper hand wash.

2. Check hygiene of the food stall 

Pay attention to the cleanliness of the utensils as well as the food handlers. Make sure that the food area is generally clean. Ensure food is covered from dust and insects.

3. Order from busy food vendors

Try opt for stalls where there is a high flow of locals. This would signify that the food is good. It’s also a likely sign of the quality and safety of the food as the food is made fresh as you wait. It is usually worth the wait.

4. Cooked/Hot food must be piping hot

Ensure that food is thoroughly cooked and is piping hot. This ensures that any bacteria are killed off by the high temperatures, which reduces risk of tummy trouble.

5. Do not order food that has been sitting in the heat for a long time

In hotter temperatures, cooked food left out warm for a long time may provide a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive. This will not make for a happy stomach, long after you have eaten the food.

6. Opt for bottled water

Drink bottled water, with sealed containers

7. Be mindful of food /drinks with ice cubes

In areas where the water quality is not great, avoid ice cubes in drinks to avoid potential tummy trouble

8. Be mindful of how you consume fruit and vegetables

If ordering fruit or from the market, take it home and wash it before eating, particularly if you consume the skin. Alternatively, peel off the skin yourself.

9. Start gradually 

If you are not accustomed to the type of food, or street food in general, ease yourself in. Start with mild options and gradually explore more adventurous choices.

10. Trust your instincts

If something does  not look or smell right, trust your instinct and select another food vendor.

I would really like you to immerse yourself into the culinary street food adventures.

Let me know, in the comment section below, the best street food you have ever tried.

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