Wandering through the bustling street food market, it’s impossible not to be tempted by the intoxicating aromas and flavors.
There are different levels of meats, spices, aromatic herbs and stalls waiting to be quenched with delicious juices.
And it happens.
The strange rumblings in your stomach, the nausea, the sweaty brows, and the dreaded feeling of needing to escape the situation immediately to find the nearest bathroom.
* 20 things that might surprise first-timers to Japan
* Travel Bites: Soul Shack’s hot chicken has plenty of heat
* Travel Bites: Satya’s dahi puri is the tastiest cracker you’ll ever eat
Eating street food is one of the great joys of travel, connecting you to the culture through food and interaction with the locals, and absorbing the spirit of a new destination. But it can be a health risk.
RYAN ANDERSON/THE THING
Shaka Takoz sells street food from an old bus on the side of the road.
So how do you enjoy these juicy treats without compromising your health? Here’s how to enjoy street food and make your tummy happy.
Choose hot food cooked in front of you
Hot temperatures kill most food-borne bacteria and diseases. Watch it cook right in front of you, so you know it’s made fresh rather than letting it cool while visiting the fly. A good rule of thumb is “boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it.”
If you can’t drink water, consider salads and ice
The humble lettuce can cause stomach twists from a flushed toilet, which may have washed the lettuce down in the local water.
If you’re advised not to drink tap water at your destination, be aware of all the ways that water can end up in your food, including rinsed salad ingredients and ice in your drinks.
Only whole fruit and peel
You may be looking for sliced mango or papaya slices for a fresh snack, but it’s better to choose whole fruit without the risk of contamination inside, or fruit with a thick peel or peel that can be peeled.
Assess your spicy tolerance realistically
We all have that friend who chooses the hottest food and likes to show off that they can’t stand spices, even if the locals recommend it. But it’s always best to play it safe. Your version of seasoning may be very different from the stall holder. Also, spicy food, even if you can “handle” it, can wreak havoc on your stomach, which isn’t great when you’re traveling. Don’t be a hero.
Accept that your system won’t adjust to a different culture’s food if it’s not something you eat regularly at home. Be prepared for an upset stomach – even the slightest cramp can disrupt your vacation. You can get antibiotics from your doctor before you go and take Imodium and anti-nausea tablets with you for the worst case scenario.
Five of the Stuff Travel Team’s favorite street foods
Bhel Puri, India
It’s worth risking your Delhi belly for this delicious street snack. There are several varieties, but basically it’s a mix of spicy, tangy, sweet and salty sweet rice, vegetables, chaat masala and tangy tamarind sauce, served in newspaper cones. Eat it at your own risk. – Trupti Biradar, Travel Editor
On a pre-pandemic trip to Budapest, I embarrassingly stopped by a decrepit subway station three times in as many days to try the city’s best langos. The dish consists of toasted, fluffy bread topped with everything from pesto to Nutella. For an authentic taste, go for the combination of cream and grated cheese. – Stephen Hurd, Tourism Press Coordinator
You’ll want to pop these delicious little balls of octopus-filled, tangy sauce, mayonnaise and dancing bonito flakes right into your mouth, but resist the urge—they’re hot. Poke a hole with a wooden skewer to let steam out and enjoy. – Siobhan Downes, veteran travel writer
I can’t wander the streets of Paris without eating a crepe. Cooked on a hot plate and topped with your favorite toppings, these thin pancakes are a delicious treat in France. For some reason, the French love to put Nutella on their crepes, and I can get over that 100%. Hello. – Juliet Sivertsen, Travel News Director
Zucchini flowers, Spain
We were expecting the country that gave us tapas to put on a show in the snacking department, and on a long trip to Barcelona, it didn’t disappoint. It’s hard to pick a favorite when eating dishes like squid ink croquettes, gambas al ajillo (shrimp swimming in garlic olive oil) and chorizo al vino (Spanish sausage cooked in wine), but for me the grilled zucchini flowers were a standout. . Skimming the slightly beer-battered exterior, I reach for the melty center of this lemony goat cheese, ricotta and honey dish for the first time. Also popular in Italy, flowers can be found in various cheese fillings. But in my opinion, that sweet cream combo was the best. – Lorna Thornber, travel writer
What is your favorite street food? Let us know in the comments.