Street food often gets a bad rap, with some thinking its a recipe for getting sick. But there are a lot of reasons to try it — as long as you use common sense when you do! Whether you’re traveling in Italy or India, chances are you’ll find a street vendor or two. These food vendors are even in addition to the plethora of food markets you’ll find too.
As with any cuisine, each country has their own kinds of street food, and many of those same foods can be found in local restaurants too. So why try the food from a street vendor? For starters, it’s often significantly cheaper than at a restaurant — even though it’s typically made with the same ingredients.
Good street food vendors can also give you an inside peek into how a particular food is made, whether you’re trying deep fried bananas (or deep fried water beetles, for the more adventurous palate) in Vietnam, or tasting crocche in Palermo in Italy. Since you can see them prepare your meal right in front of you, it’s clear how fresh — and delicious — these snacks and dishes really are!
Street food is also truly authentic food. It’s not Americanized, as you may find in hotel restaurants, for example. And one of our favorite parts of trying some street food? You get to interact and learn directly from the locals about how and why they make green toffee-crusted rice cakes. (With a guide during your street food tour — such as during our Cooking and Culture in Southeast Asia trip — you’ll have some help with the translating and communicating too).
So how do you know good street food? In addition to seeing them prepare the food in front of you, great vendors typically have long lines of locals. Eat where the locals eat, and you’ll have a culinary experience that you’re sure to remember — in a good way!
By Liz Hall
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