As someone who declares ‘food’ as one of my main hobbies, I find it very difficult to tell anyone not to try any type of food they can get their hands on. Street food is no exception.
By far some of the best food I have eaten on my numerous trips to Thailand is from a local man or woman selling their homemade delights from their wooden cart on the street or from a stall at the market. Not only is it fresh, delicious and as authentic as it gets – it’ll cost you less than the morning paper.
Yes there is the possibility that it can result in a day on the toilet, but if you follow these tips you can practically eliminate the risk of getting sick.
1. It must be piping hot
If you’re ordering cooked food always make sure it’s steaming hot – the hotter it is the less chance that bugs and germs can survive on it.
2. It must be fresh
The main reason that people get sick from street food is because they eat food that has been sitting around for a while. Especially when eating meat and seafood, the food should – where possible – be prepared in front of your eyes and not the leftovers from the day before.
3. Avoid salad and prepared fruit
Like in most developing countries, the tap water is not suitable for drinking. Despite that, the locals still use it to wash salad and fruit – as well as use it to make ice cubes. And while their stomachs may be able to handle it in small doses – you will probably not be quite as lucky.
Fruit that has just been picked and is still in its skin is fine to eat – but avoid any that has been washed and prepared. Likewise with salads, save those for when you get home!
4. Look for locals
Just as you’d hesitate to go into an empty restaurant at home, the same goes for street and market stalls. If it’s empty while all the ones around it have people lining up – then it’s probably for a reason.
The locals naturally know the best places to eat – so if they’re there, you know it’s good. Plus, the turnaround of food is much faster when it’s busy – so it’s more likely to be fresh.
Finally, ENJOY what you’re eating and soak in the flavours. Because, if you are sick the next day you can at least tell yourself it was worth it (sort of!).