Food and accommodation usually take much of one’s traveling budget. When traveling, one of the things I often find most interesting a specific place is their food. It brings a whole new ground for discovering the City through their gastronomic treats and specialties that you won’t find in any other places. One of the world’s famous treats is street food. They are often associated with fast food or something that is ready to eat or drink. These goodies and are light on the budget, a good way to stave off hunger forthe wander lusts. Most, if not all, are finger foods or skewered for convenience and enjoyment. Street foods are normally found on sidewalks, along the streets, around the bend but equally satisfying depending on one’s taste. Here are some (but not all) of the world’s best street food wonders. I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments section.
Belgian Frites, Belgium- These have morphed into a myriad of forms including freedom fries, frites and chips. This potato madness is famous around the world. Frites are traditionally made with Belgian Bintje potatoes, twice-cooked and may be seasoned with salt, or dipped in ketchup (catsup) or mayonnaise. Digging deep into its history, as opposed to current beliefs, French fries were claimed to originate from Belgium with the name Belgian Frites but there’s actually nothing French about them. It is said that they are called French Fries because French was the official language of the Belgian army at that time (World War I era) and also because in old English, “French” means to cut into sticks.
Poutine, Canada- A street food treat that involves another street food wonder. Poutine makes way for revolutionizing French fries from a plain snack to a full-packed meal. In Poutine; fries are cut thicker and larger than the average ones, so that the outside stays crunchy and the inside remains warm and soft. Cheese curds and gravy or sauce are added to give more flavor and twist to this all-time favorite snack turned meal. There are also variations of this street food in other countries, like in Italy where they replace gravy with tomato sauce, adding a touch of Italian twist to this Canadian dish. Of course, who can forget NJ Disco Fries; a popular staple of the club & tunnel crowd. These fries are topped with melted mozzarella cheese and gravy and found in diners throughout the state.
Crepe, France- Paris made its name through their world-class dining places and delicious mouth-watering offers. The streets and sidewalks were no alien to France’s food business, hence, the birth of the Crepe industry. These are authentic, thinly-made French pancakes that are served with fillings. Be it meat, fruits, or sweets, crepes surely satisfy your gastronomic needs. They will leave you on your toes, and wanting more. They are not only available on the streets, they’re now getting into the top restaurants, not only in France but in other parts of the world as well.
Vada pav, India- This King of street foods fits vegetarians and non-vegetarian customers. Pav, may be referred to as unsweetened bread or bun is stuffed with Vada, which means a handful of mashed potato bhaji coated with batter and deep fried with ginger, finely minced red and green chilies and turmeric and a phodani of mustard seeds. It is usually served with a chutney or sauce that is commonly made out of a mix of garlic, shredded coconut meat, and tamarind pulp. There are also variations of this street food sandwich in different places in India.
Dak-ggo-chi, Seoul, South Korea- This country got tons of street foods to choose from.Your taste buds must be ready for a delicious roller coaster ride with Dak-ggo-chi. This street food wonder is chicken barbecued on a stick, something similar to Malaysia’s chicken satay. Korean natives love to add hot sauces but normally this food is served witha sweet sauce which foreign travelers would also dig. Seeing how the vendors cook your food in front of you is a bonus feast for the hungry eyes.
Beef/Pork Jerky, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia-One of Malaysia’s national food that is known to local and foreign travelers; the Malaysian beef/pork jerky will surely give a whole new meaning to your ordinary grilled meat experience. The meat is thinly sliced,put on a hot grill for a few minutes and then set away from fire to dry them off. This results in delicious jerky. Unlike the newer versions of this street food wonder, the original makers of this dish trimmed off the fat before cooking the meat. What makes this dish mouth-watering is the secret technique and recipe behind the marination process, giving it a distinct taste as compared to others.
Taco, Mexico City, Mexico- You’ve seen this on television, on malls, on feasts, but thisis definitely one of the world’s most famous street food wonder. When you hear the word “Taco”, there’s only one place you can think of, Mexico. Over the years, the variety of taco fillings have been growing, from beef, seafood, chicken, vegetables and of course, cheese. With a mixture of tasty meat and salsa and lettuce and cilantro and tomatoes and onions then topped with oozing saucy and cheesy goodness wrapped in a wheat tortilla, who would not fall in love with this world old time favorite?
Philly cheesesteak, Philadelphia, USA- The City of Brotherly Love is home to the ever famous Philly cheesesteak. This action-packed sandwich is made of up of chopped meat, onions, and a variety of cheeses to top it all off. The best is the squeeze cheese that comes out bright orange, sinful and delicious. Whether they’re having the old-time favorite or the newer recipes, it does not matter; the Philly cheesesteak never fails to satisfy. The Philly cheesesteak has been made into healthier recipes in the current time. You can add a Vietnamese touch and make it with tofu for health buffs and vegetarians. This is such a winner in street food wonders that even Bobby Flay tried making his own Philly cheesesteak specialty, competing with a local store owner in his show: Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
Balut, Philippines- Home to a growing number of street food lovers and vendors, the Philippines no different from its neighboring countries when it comes to having a variety of street food treats. Balut, also known as fertilized duck egg with nearly-developed embryo inside the shell. Chinese migrants are said to have brought the idea of this exotic gastronomic treat to the country but the locals have mastered the craft of balut-making in the spirit of Filipino tradition. Balut-eaters usually prefer to season the egg with salt or vinegar and chili mixture to balance off the flavors. There’s also a milder version of Balut, which is Penoy, where the egg has not yet matured, thus, only having a yolk instead of a duck embryo. Believed to be an aphrodisiac by the locals, this could be a challenge for those are looking for an energetic night with their partners. Other famous local street foods are Taho (made of fresh silken and soft tofu), arnibal (caramel sauce), and pearl sago (pearl tapioca), sorbetes (local ice cream), and fish balls.
Kebab, Istanbul, Turkey- This mighty-meaty street food wonder is stuffed in bread with a salad or also most commonly ordered with fries. A traditional Kebab is made out of lamb meat but now, variations of kebab have grown wild with the use of pork, beef, chicken, goat, fish and seafood meat as well as its proliferation throughout the world. With rich roots from Persia, this street food wonder made its way to Istanbul and captured global hearts as well.
Let your your stomach and palate take over as you wander off the city grid. Next time you are on vacation, invoke your inner Bourdain and get to know the people and their real foods. Having some of these cultural street food treats that will surely make your visit a memorable one.