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Your beginners guide to Great Street Food

Street food Guy!
Street Food Guy in Cambodia

The beginners guide to street food. Street food is one of those crazy things that some love and some avoid like the plague. There are legit reasons for both of these standpoints.

In my mind there truly is no way to sample the culinary delights of a country than through street food. On the flip side of said coin, of course cleanliness can be lower than in regular restaurants, and of course there are many anecdotal stories about Delhi Belly. Excuse the pun, but this means that that Street Food can either mean “the shit”, or “the shits”.

Table of Contents

What is street food?

In its basic format it is food served from stalls and, or movable trucks and the like. It can even be served from restaurants with seats outside.

One could literally go on and on about what street food is! So I did, ckeck out my “what is street food” article here.

beginners guide to Street Food
An easy street food to start with!

Beginners guide to street food – should you eat it?

Hell yeah, again as I have said in my mind the ONLY way to truly discover the cuisine of a country is to dig in to its street food. You just need to be brave.

Will eating street food give me the shits?

Well maybe. OK, so lets look at this analytically. Whenever you travel different countries and cities have different bacteria. You can literally get the shits from anywhere. Your body will change a little bit in every new country you go to. For me personally (although I have a constitution of steel), the only food poising I ever got was from a top notch hotel. Street food has never affected me too bad.

That being said, check the surroundings, or even reviews if you feel that worried.

Just in case though ALWAYS bring your own tissues and learn how to use a squat toilet like a pro. Read more here.

Do not be a germaphobe!

This kinda goes back to the previous point, but if you are one of those people that needs sanitizer every 5 minutes then street food might not be for you. I have eaten at places where live animals were kept, dogs running in and out of the kitchen, and rats. Everywhere has rats and rats like food. If you can mentally deal with this, you will be OK.

beginners guide to street food
Animals like street food

Beginners guide to street food – how to start?

If the last two points have filled you with dread and fear, then I will ease you into things. Don’t go straight in for deep fried frog, or bat. Start conservative and at clean BUSY looking places. If a place is busy then it means people like it. Ergo it does not make people sick. Go for a nice standard dish, maybe a burger if you are in the west, or in Asia fried noodles. Fried noodles are my go to street food dish.

To read more about fried noodles in Cambodia click here .

Find the must try dishes of the country you are in

EVERY country even the posh ones has a street food staple. In the UK for example I count fish and chips as our number one street food. OK, this would be a higher end thing, but it fits in my mind.

To learn how to eat fish and chips properly click here .

So, whatever country you are in, find the street food sensation, ideally one that isn’t that gross and go give it a try. In Cambodia for example a good one would be Num Pang, which is literally their version of a baguette. Different enough, but without filling you with too much dread (ideally).

To read about Num Pang click here .

Are you ready to take things to the next level?

This beginners guide to street food is starting to turn into one of those Karate kid type montages eh! OK the next step is to get a local to take you out. A local will be able to explain what each thing is, give recommendations and more importantly ensure you are kept within your comfort zone. With that being said, TRY to step out of your comfort zone. We are now moving away from beginners guide to street food to intermediate guide to street food. Achievement unlocked!

Street Food Koh Trong
A Cambodian classic

Beginners guide to street food – to expert?

OK, so you might not quite be ready for expert level just yet, but expert level at Street Food really is a state of mind. Still carrying on like its Karate kid eh! Well I will tell you this Mr Miyagi definitely ate street food. I digress.

By state of mind I mean you need to have no fear. Weird street food, lets take bugs as an example, are just weird because WE think they are weird. Weird is a cultural thing, we learn it. What we eat is normal and the rest isn’t.

So, just go for it. I have eaten some truly disgusting stuff, such as pig penis (not actually that bad), sheep testicle (really bad), to bugs (somewhere in the middle). I have also eaten tamilok, which in my mind is what I feel “man fat” might taste like.

To read about tamlok click here

To read about Pig Pennies click here .

To read bout street food in North Korea click here

Long story short the worse that can happen to you is that you do not like the food. And we have all tried bad food. Take away this fear factor and you are good to go.

beginners guide to street food
Are you ready to eat insects?

Concluding  the beginners guide to street food

Go forth Young Padawan (OK so that one is Star Wars) and eat! The journey is now yours alone……..

Written by Gareth

Gareth Johnson is the founder of Young Pioneer Tours, a published writer, and all round entrepreneur. He enjoys street food, and encourage others to get paid to travel the world.

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