In my travels around the world — 125 countries and counting — I have eaten a lot of street food. Reader Rusty asked me in a recent comment if I ever got sick.
Off the top of my head, I’ve eaten street food in–
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
I am probably missing some countries from the list above, but I am happy to report that I have never been sickened by street food. Quite a game of Russian roulette or much ado about nothing?
Here’s three reasons why I am happy to eat street food–
- You see the kitchen – when the food is cooked right in front of you, you immediately have an indication whether it is good or not. Good street food will look and smell fresh before you ever put it in your mouth. The more crowded the street stall or the more specialized the item, the more likely it is to be fine.
- It is cheap – where else can you get such a bargain on breakfast, lunch, and dinner? I’ve had more street food dinners under $2 than over and if you’re still hungry seconds are only a minute away.
- It is tasty – smart locals have caught on that tourists like to get an “authentic” experience by eating street food, but that hasn’t changed the fact that street food often tastes fresher and better than in a restaurant
Here’s a handful of street food stalls I have eaten at around the world:
I have suffered from “food” poisoning once in my life while traveling, and it was not from street food. I was in Egypt and made the mistake of drinking from the water cooler in the gym of Ramses Hilton in Cairo.
That was a rough few days that followed.
The following year, I was
bold dumb enough in India to use the tap water in a three-star hotel in Agra to brush my teeth. That didn’t phase me. But after Egypt and perhaps dodging a bullet in India, my policy now is to drink only bottled water.
But — I look forward to street food whenever I can get it…