For anyone interested in eating, street food is easily one of the best things about travelling. The risk of running into a holiday ruining stomach bug, coupled with the reward of possibly discovering one of the tastiest things you may ever eat is a potent cocktail that keeps people coming back to odd stalls and strange markets time and again.
There are way too many amazing street food dishes to possibly do justice to in 500 words. But, even out of thousands of plates of pure yumminess that span the globe, there are a few that deserve a special mention. These dishes have conquered the street and the restaurant to become some of the most beloved foods anywhere in the world. These are the seven most awesome street food dishes on earth.
A favourite across South America, the humble arepa is the Latin answer to the hamburger. With a bun made from maize flour and fillings ranging from beef to avocado to everything in between, the arepa is the ultimate hand held snack. Cheap, cheerful and always tasty, this street food is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
6. Pad Thai
As travellers have flocked to their vibrant cities and beautiful beaches, Thai cooking has gone on to conquer the world. There’s no doubt, however, that global domination would have been significantly harder were it not for pad Thai. Rice noodles, fish sauce, bean sprouts and chillies may not sound like much, but pad Thai is perhaps the most popular street food in the world.
5. Vada Pav
When we think of sandwiches, it’s usually Europe and the West that spring to mind. Anyone who’s been to India, however, knows that Asia is where it’s really at. Vada Pav, a deep fried potato fritter served inside a white roll, may be an absolute carb overload, but it also happens to be one of the most delicious things on the subcontinent. So tasty is this dish that 23rd August was recently declared World Vada Pav Day.
4. Halo Halo
Not only does this Filippino specialty sound like a Beatles lyric, but it looks like a food that would be more at home in an updated “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” music video than in the real world. Lurid fruits, ice shavings, ice creams, jellies and evaporated milk all come together in a mad explosion of colours, tastes and textures that are as confusing as they are delicious. It might look dangerous, but there’s no doubt that halo halo deserves its place on this list.
If there’s one food that defines Germany, it is sausage. Though there over 1500 individual varieties of sausage available in the country, the undisputed king is the currywurst. Steamed and fried pork sausages are typically served sliced alongside dollops of curry ketchup and fistfuls of French fries in what must be the ultimate step in hot dog evolution.
2. Banh Mi
It’s not just India that flies the flag for Asian sandwiches. As arguably Vietnam’s most famous export, the banh mi baguette exemplifies everything that’s great about street food. Handheld, cheap and delicious, these sandwiches usually come stuffed with pickled veg, pate and slices of slow cooked meat, making them a truly tasty mash up of East and West.
It may now have been bastardised by Taco Bell and other big brands, but there’s no doubt that a traditional soft corn tortilla taco can stand shoulder to shoulder with any other street food on earth. Hundreds of famous food trucks across California, Mexico and the Southwestern United States have all added to the taco legend, helping create thousands of uniquely delicious recipes and put tacos on the global food map. Now eaten around the world, tacos are the perfect example of street food come good.
There is no better way to get a sense of a country than through it’s street food. Wherever you are on earth, the dishes served over open fires for under a quid are going to tell you far more about the cooking than any Michelin starred meal. Maybe this is why street food continues to be as popular as it is.