Food for thought: street foods from around the world
Writer, Gretchelle, shares some of her favourite street food finds from around the world.
Sure people have many reasons for travelling, curiosity for a foreign land, to learn a new culture and language, or even just wanting to satisfy that itch for wandering the world. But let’s be honest, an even bigger reason for travelling is to eat delicious foods from all over the globe. To get a true taste of a country you shouldn’t book yourself a seat in the city’s stuffy Michelin starred restaurant. Instead, take to the streets and take the locals’ advice for the best street food in the country. Street food might get a bad rap in some countries but you definitely won’t be able to find food as delectable and cheap as those notorious street carts abundant in any city, town or village. Here is our list of some must-try street foods that will leave both your wallet and stomach happy.
Balut – The Philippines
This street food found in the Philippines is definitely not for the weak-stomached. Travellers and locals alike are divided on the simple egg treat that can be found all over the island country. The reason for the slight aversion? Balut is an 18-day-old fertilized duck egg that is sold on the busy streets of Manila by vendors and in high-class restaurants to wealthy patrons. While seeing the duckling might scare off first timers, Balut aficionados know that this Filipino treat is not only tasty but packed with nutrients that can help bring back some much needed energy for travellers. Rumour has it that the notorious egg is great for the male libido.
Elote – Mexico
Part of the charms of many street foods around the world is the simplicity of the foods and preparation. Elote, or corn on the cob, can be found all throughout Mexico and in the southern and central urban areas many street vendors provide elote with a variety of toppings. The ears of corn are either boiled or grilled over hot coals and you can opt to give your elote even more flavour with some delicious toppings. Popular combinations include lemon juice and chili powder for those looking for something with a kick or sour cream (crema) and cheese for a creamy, melt in your mouth option. While elote is an authentic Mexican street food you can also find the treat in cities throughout the U.S. such as Los Angeles and Chicago.
Gelato – Italy
Gelato is already known all over the world as the ideal ice cream. A creamy and cool treat that can satisfy even the most disconcerting sweet tooth, gelato might be available all over the globe but it started as a street food in the foodie haven of Italy. Gelato can be traced back to even Ancient Rome and flavours for this treat are endless. In Italy some classic flavours include, panna (cream), cioccolato (chocolate), limone (lemon), pistachio and bacio, meaning kiss, a hazelnut and chocolate blend. There are tons of gelato shops and carts all over Italy so make sure to ask locals where the best gelato is where you are staying. With over 50 hostels throughout Italy, Hostelling International also have helpful hostel staff members who are more than happy to share their favourite gelato spots!
Coxinhas – Brazil
Eating healthy while travelling can be a bit of a concern because the world is filled with delicious, irresistible, fried foods. Take coxinhas from Brazil, this convenient and tasty street food is made of shredded chicken, battered and deep fried. The classic coxinhas shape is meant to replicate the shape of a chicken leg as the name means “little thigh” and is packed with flavour as the dough often is made with chicken broth as well. Originating from São Paulo, modern cooks have also made some twists on the classic street snack using unconventional stuffing such as maize (corn), cheese and even veggies. With some major sporting events taking place in Brazil, coxinhas are sure to be international visitors’ favourite Brazilian treat.
Snail Soup – Morocco
Morocco may be known for other delicious dishes such as fluffy couscous and mint tea but the real treats can be found on the streets of Marrakesh. Snail soup is a popular street food that is both cheap and filling. Moroccans use land snails, usually harvested in the region of Nador, giving the dish an earthy flavour similar to mushrooms that off-sets the 15 different spices included in the warm broth. Each vendor has their own recipe so make sure to sample several different sellers’ personal concoction.
These are just a handful of great street foods that can be found all over the world. Each country will have unique flavours and authentic dishes that not only give you a delicious taste of their city but also a taste of their history and culture. Ask locals where you can find the best street food and vendors or ask at the front desk of your hostel for some food tips. Hostelling International have thousands of hostels all over the world with staff that are more than happy to share their favourite food finds. So skip those fast foods chains while travelling and head to the city streets!
Gretchelle Quiambao is writer living in Los Angeles and runs the blog, Oh,fancy. She is always looking for her next adventure and the perfect slice of cake. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook.