Food Tourism: Ways to Eat You Way around the World without Getting Sick
“Street food, I believe, is the salvation of the human race.” -Anthony Bourdain
Street food is the moniker given to the many delectable and scrumptious fares and provisions you can find precisely just there, out in the streets.
Today, street food has become such an integrated aspect of food tourism. After all, it has been widely believed that to genuinely get to know a country, you should eat your way through it. Of course, eating your way through a country would be considered incomplete if you do not sample their street food, an integral aspect of your food itinerary—or should we say EATinerary. However, cheesy puns aside, there is quite a myriad of merits to be had when you eat street food. Apart from giving you an authentic food experience, it is also a lot cheaper than having to buy food in restaurants.
Unfortunately, much like anything that is worth sampling in this world, indulging your craving for street food comes with some drawbacks. As the majority of these stalls would be preparing their food out there in the streets, you cannot realistically expect all of their food to be sanitary nor hygienic. Moreover, as you would be eating this while you are on the go, there is a very likely risk that your food would be contaminated to outside elements. In this regard, if you are someone with major food concerns, it is best not to compromise your health by never opting to eat street food when you are traveling. In any case, if you have an adventurous streak and would wish to indulge your cravings, then go ahead but not without being aware of the precautionary measures first. So, if you are planning to eat your way through Pampanga’s street food scene or elsewhere, here are vital things you should remember:
1.) Research common street foods before you go
Before planning an all-you-can-eat street food excursion, it is best if you made yourself aware of what standard street foods can be found at your destination. To Hong Kong, this might be the world famous egg waffles, Pho in Indonesia, pork satay in Bangkok or anything else in other countries. Regardless of where you might be going, know that they have food specialties you should know about. Once you do know what they are, use travel sites to look them up and look for recommendations on specific stalls.
2.) Eat when the locals eat
No one knows the street food scene better than the locals do. In this regard, apart from knowing what to eat, you need to know when you should eat as well. While it is customary for most people to take their lunch around noon, this is not necessarily the case for other countries who take it much later in the day. With this in mind, it is imperative to get on their meal timetable so that you can be assured that your food is freshly made.
3.) Look for busy lines
If you wish to know where the best street food is, ask the locals for recommendations. Alternatively, you can scour the area and look for the stall with longest queues. Sure, it might be a bit of a wait, but you can rest easy knowing that your food is not only the tastiest one offered in the area but the cleanest one as well.
4.) Observe open kitchens
Most street food stalls cook their food out there in the open. Mainly, this is to draw crowds with the inviting smell they are making with all the cooking, and it also gives you a chance to observe how your food will be prepared. Before buying anything, watch how food is handled. Look out for people who handle money and touch food after that or people who have no proper washing area for their dirty utensils. If something is amiss or something does not pass your sanitary standards, skip the potential stomach flu and find another stall.