So you are all packed and excited. You are heading out to a new destination; you have made the list of local foods you want to try, including street food. However, even though your gut wants it, your gut feeling is whispering doubts and telling you not to try it. You are afraid that you might fall sick. Well, you are in the right place to find some answers. Here are some of the best tips on eating street food when traveling. Following these, you can be carefree and enjoy those scrumptious local delicacies.
Eat street and still stay safe; find out some quick tips on street food eating in the below slides:
Tips On Eating Street Food When Traveling Without Falling Sick
Food is one of the foremost elements of a lovely excursion. And let me tell you, there is no better place to taste the authentic local cuisine than the streets. But while you are at it, follow the below tips and greatly reduce your likelihood of falling ill:
1. Ensure Food is Not Cooked with Tap Water
If you go to India, one of the most common and delicious street foods is the ‘Golgappas.’ These are tiny water balls filled with cold but really delicious mint-flavored water and boiled chickpeas or potatoes. It is one of the most fantastic street foods that you could ever taste. No matter which part of India you go to, you will find at least 5 to 6 vendors within one market place. Your trip to India is not complete if you haven’t eaten this.
However, as water contamination is very high in some parts of the world, you must exercise caution. Many vendors use packaged mineral water in the ‘Golgappas,’ so that is where you should eat them. Many big restaurant chains offer them, but the most authentic taste is on the streets. Just be sure to ask street vendors what kind of water they use. Additionally, if you are sensitive to spicy foods, you may wish to ask the vendor to give you the “sweet water” because the sour one could be too spicy for you to bear.
The all-encompassing mantra of eating street food when traveling is to ensure that your food is never cooked in tap water.
2. Avoid The Ice
If tap water is not suitable for you, ice is just as bad when it comes to street vendors. Traveling to many parts of the world, you will encounter one very popular street food. You can call it an ice lolly, shaved ice, or snow cone; ultimately, it is ice that is showered with sweet or sour syrups. If you eat it, make sure that the ice is from a package.
If you have a freshly squeezed juice, tell the vendor to not put ice in it. The same goes for milkshakes, smoothies, mojitos, and cold coffees. Also, avoid ice cream in these too. It is quite likely that the ice is produced using tap water, so if tap water is unsafe, ice is just as dangerous. Unless it is packaged ice, avoid it at all costs.
3. Prefer Freshly Cooked Food
You may certainly choose to eat meat and seafood on your travels, even from the street vendors. Yes, you read correctly… but ensure that it is properly cooked. Therefore, raw meat or seafood is a big no for eating street food when traveling. You should also try to avoid consuming undercooked meat. Always ask for your hamburgers and other meats “well done”. Cooking kills most germs, and you are better safe than sorry.
Not only should your food be cooked, but it should also be freshly cooked. Food that has sat out for long periods of time attracts germs and flies, and that is an almost certain precursor of diseases and illness.
4. Pick Popular Places
Similar to the previous tip, if you pick an eatery where there are long lines, you ensure that your food is moving very fast. These places remove the chances of stale or stagnant food. Thus, always try to eat from a busy vendor. Not only will the taste be delicious, but you will also be in less danger of getting food poisoning.
Also, in such places, the quality of materials used is better because the vendor earns enough to support the costs. Another great advantage is that you will get a good variety of options. So if you want less spicy food or have any other preferences, they are more likely to be met with popular street vendors.
5. When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do
When you see locals lining up behind a street vendor, this is almost a certain sign that they are reputable and delicious. After all, locals are the people who frequent the stalls most often. If they prefer the food, then there might be something commendable about it.
However, certain caution must still accompany this decision. The locals might digest certain spices and condiments that you are accustomed to or allergic to. So order the most basic item from the stall. Always ask the vendor what’s in it. You might not be able to consume certain meats that are considered local delicacies.
Therefore, when it comes to eating street food when traveling, choose the places that locals frequent and order basic dishes.
6. Raw Meat or Veggies: Raw is a Naw!
Salads, fruit plates, or anything that includes raw ingredients should be avoided. These are locally produced, but the water used in production could be contaminated. If tap water is not alright, then neither is the salad, no matter how healthy it might seem.
You might have heard of the famous strawberry and cream in London. Well, berries can actually be very harmful because they don’t have skins. Germs can seep in even if you wash them. Eating raw foods is only allowed if they have skin, and you can wash them in clean water. However, these precautions are not possible when you are eating from a street cart.
Therefore, an essential mandate of eating street food when traveling is to avoid raw veggies and fruits at all costs.
7. Listen to the Tummy
Even if a street food meets all the above tips on eating street food when traveling, you should still listen to what your gut feeling says. There is no pressure while sampling street food. You can avoid it altogether, if you wish! You should only try it if you really want to try it and feel comfortable doing so.
However, if you do choose to take the leap, you will definitely have a selection of delicious food to choose from. You need to be a little extra careful when it comes to street food, that’s all!
8. Stall & Vendor Hygiene
What has been cooked is one aspect of street food safety, while how it is cooked is another. Is the appearance of the stall neat and clean? The vendor should be following health codes. He should wear hand gloves and a hair net at the least. Food bits should not be spilled on the counter. The water used for cleaning the utensils should also be contamination free. It shouldn’t be tap water. It could be boiled water. As much as you can, observe the preparation of the food at a street vendor before you eat there.
If you are about to dig into a freshly mixed cold dish, make sure the knife used to cut the veggies is clean. Veggies should be cut fresh. You can even ask the vendor to cut it in front of you. Be extra cautious, and you will be okay.
Although restaurants are somewhat better in regards to food safety, you can’t go into the kitchen and observe the food preparation. In the case of street food, everything happens in front of your eyes, so you can easily observe and pick the right vendor.
A Few Final Words of Caution & Sanitary Tips
- Travel Insurance: Out-of-pocket costs for a health checkup or treatment can be huge and street food can cause illness even with utmost caution. Travel insurance covers it all, so you may consider getting one before you travel the globe.
- Play it Safe: Try only the most popular local delicacies and avoid being over-adventurous. Always ensure that you know what you are eating. Don’t try highly authentic meats or seasonings because they might not go over well with your palate.
- Steer Clear of Unknown Condiments: International cuisines involve lots of condiments that you might not be aware of. However, you might be allergic to many of these. Therefore, avoid a complicated dish that has higher chances of such condiments.
- Be Inquisitive: You can freely ask the vendor what he is putting in the food. This way, you will know precisely what you will be eating. It’s better to clarify first than be sorry later.
Wrapping up Safety Guide Eating Street Food When Traveling
I hope these tips for eating street food when traveling will help you indulge and not get sick. Trying new foods should be an exciting adventure, so avoiding street food altogether may not be your first choice. However, it is better to follow a few rules of thumb when it comes to street food.
Another thing you need to know is that restaurants are not always better. So don’t just avoid street food because it is not a restaurant. Some restaurants might have worse hygiene issues than a street food stall. So be a little open-minded, enjoy the vacation and live a little!
You may opt not to eat street food throughout your trip. Your body might crave the food of your country every once in a while. So if you are traveling abroad, pick an accommodation where you get familiar food items. Find out the most reliable accommodations on our platform Rental Trader. You can even select a vacation rental close to the best grocery stores so that you can get all the ingredients you need. For more information about Rental Trader, see our Contact page to fill out the web form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.