A few months from now, you’ll remember that it was our recent post that got you to South America, South Asia, or Europe. Wherever you travel, street foods are a great way to interact with the culture and classics like the British fish and chips and the French crepe have become well-known throughout the world.
Checking out the goodies
When you love to travel, food is an absolutely vital part of the experience due to the insight it provides into many cultures and customs. More often than not, the key to understanding a place’s history lies in its cuisine. While many globetrotters try to do this by booking a table at a popular Yelp restaurant, we believe that the best food in a new place lies on the streets.
Not only is street food relatively cheap and fast but, more importantly, it opens the door to an entire world of utter deliciousness. From the stainless steel push carts to the night market stalls that make you wary, you’ll often find some hidden jewels which mark the best local cuisine and would have been an incredibly great loss if you had missed them.
Aloo Chaat (South Asia)
Aloo chaat is a dish made with pieces of boiled and fried potatoes which are then combined with the likes of chutney and more than one spice. This food is popular all through South Asia but finds the majority of its supporters in Pakistan and northern India, as well as parts of West Bengal and even the region of Sylhet, which is found in Bangladesh.
This is usually eaten as a snack, a side dish, or even a light meal, even though it can vary from region to region when it comes to the actual ingredients used to make it.
Moving to the other side of the world, anticuchos are a kebab-like street food from the heart of Peru which can technically be made using any kind of meat but the most popular is beef heart. The meat is marinated in a mixture of vinegar and spices such as garlic and is then roasted on a skewer, alternating the meat with peppers, mushrooms, and other vegetables.
Once cooked, the anticuchos are seasoned with salt and sometimes even vinegar or lemon juice and served with a traditional Peruvian sauce made with garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, onion, beer, and vinegar. Some people also take it with a piece of bread or a boiled potato.
Arepa (Colombia and Venezuela)
Arepas are one of the main foods of Colombian and Venezuelan diets. They are basically soft, thick patties made with either ground maize kernels, maize flours, or even maize meal with added salt, water, and anything and everything between butter, eggs, milk, or oil.
They can be cooked in a lot of different ways since you can bake, boil, fry, grill, or steam them and they also vary in size, flavor, and color. Very often, arepas are filled with meat, cheese, tomatoes or salad, or even eaten as a simple side to the main meal.
Banana cue (Philippines)
This is a very popular street food in the Philippines and can be found pretty much anywhere you go. To cook this, they use saba bananas, which is a variety of banana favored for cooking in the island nation.
The bananas are deep-fried and then coated in caramelized brown sugar before finding their end on the famous bamboo sticks.
Banh mi (Vietnam)
This food came as a result of the French introducing their popular baguette to Vietnam when they occupied it in the 19th century. Therefore, the French bread became a common food of Vietnamese dinners as early as the beginning of the 20th century and, hardly 50 years later, the Banh mi had appeared on the streets of what is now known as Ho Chi Minh City.
The sandwich is made with the Vietnamese baguette, which is thin, airy wheat or rice-flour bread with a thin crust. More often than not, it will contain one or more meats such as pork belly, grilled chicken, Vietnamese sausage, and other such goodies.
Vegetables will also be added, usually cucumber, cilantro, and white radishes. Furthermore, condiments like spicy chili sauce, Maggi seasoning, and mayonnaise are quite common.
Beguni (Bangladesh and West Bengal, India)
This dish is made of sliced eggplant which is battered and then fried in regular oil. When it comes to Bangladesh and the Indian province of West Bengal, Beguni is a very popular street food throughout the year and is also a Ramadan staple in many Muslim households, when the strict rules demand that people carefully watch what they are eating.
Bunny chow (South Africa)
Keep calm, we’re not actually talking about eating a bunny here! This South African street food originated with the Indian community in the city of Durban and consists of a bread loaf which is hollowed out and then filled with curry, usually mutton, chicken, lamb, or bean.
The dish is traditionally eaten by hand and accompanied by a side of grated carrots, onion, and chili salad. Furthermore, locals often refer to this food as a ‘bunny’, so don’t get scared if you visit South Africa.
Once upon a time in Italy, some unnamed genius in Naples was dissatisfied with the big size of the pizza and wanted something he or she would be able to eat by hand. Shortly after, the calzone was born! Calzones are actually folded-over pizzas and are made with salted bread and dough that is stuffed with ham, salami, or vegetables.
Afterward, they receive a blessing of mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan or pecorino cheese. Calzones are then baked in the oven and, while regional varieties do exist and they can make up for most of your one meal, Italian street vendors chose to offer a smaller alternative that is adaptable to be eaten on the go, just like their inventor dreamed of!
First noticed in French Brittanny, crepes are an extremely popular and thin pastry which is much appreciated throughout Europe, North Africa, and southern South America, as well as the United States.
The dish is able to be filled with all kinds of delicious things so that there are two types of crepe: sweet crepes (crêpes sucrées for the aficionados) and savory galettes (crêpes salées). The sweet ones are made with wheat flour and typically eaten for breakfast or dessert while the second example is made with buckwheat flour, also known as a galette.
Sweet crepes find themselves filled with Nutella, custard, sliced fruits and even whipped cream for the adventurers out there. The more savory type of crepe has popular fillings like cheese, eggs, ratatouille, mushroom, and all kinds of meat.
As the story goes, German sausages can put American hot dogs to shame while the currywurst, in particular, is an iconic food. The pork sausage is steamed, fried, and usually cut into slices before being seasoned with curry ketchup and, of course, curry powder.
The food is usually served with fries but, since you can find it pretty much anywhere you go in Germany, you’ll find different variations as you travel across the land.
Fish and chips (England)
This is such a quintessential food in British cuisine today that we’re sure you already know about it. However, a fun fact is that this food was invented somewhere else in Europe. Chips, or, as they are adequately called, french fries, were first encountered in countries like France and Belgium while the fried fish was made a British legend thanks to Portugal and Spain.
Enterprising Brits had a stroke of imagination and decided to serve battered cod or haddock with chips somewhere in the mid-1800s. Seasoned with salt and vinegar to taste, locals often pair it with some curry sauce or plain, old ketchup.
While fish and chips were usually served in a newspaper, these days you’ll find them in a grease-proof paper (although most of them have faux newspaper print). Another nice fact to know is that this was one of the few foods not rationed during World War II.
A gyro is a food deriving its name from the Greek meat preparation technique in which the meat – usually lamb, chicken, or even pork – is made delicious on a vertical rotisserie and then sliced off in pieces to be consumed in a wrap of flatbread filled with a dozen different and delicious ingredients like tomatoes, onions, tzatziki sauce, and even fries.
The gyro meat itself is usually sprinkled with paprika, garlic powder, pepper, dried parsley, and oregano. Some chefs also add cinnamon, cumin, and nutmeg.
Hot Dog (United States)
The American street food classic can be found on the menu at many restaurants, convenience stores, and even stadiums on game-day, as well as the patented hot dog stands and food trucks that have become common in places like Chicago, Detroit, and New York.
The grilled or cooked sausage is served on a steamed hot dog bun and garnished, in the spirit of democracy, with whatever the eater feels like, from ketchup, mustard, relish to coleslaw, cheese, and chili.