I love Street Food. Knowing the pros and cons of street food help me to enjoy the pleasures of delicacies, while avoiding health-related issues. Street food usually represents a colorful and cultural experience. However, Street Food may not be for everyone. Street Food can be a yummy and cultural experience, but there may be some hygienic issues associated with it.
Cons of Street Food
Let’s start with the not so fun part; The cons. There are very few cons to enjoying Street Food. The pros and cons of street food are interesting. The Cons generally come in the form of hygiene.
- Sometimes street food does not have proper refrigeration
- Are there places for the workers to wash their hands?
- Is there a sink to sanitize utensils?
- The Street Food may be exposed to passers by. Is it covered?
- Street Food may or may not be fresh.
- It may or may not abide by any existing legal or food handling standards.
- If you are allergic, have dietary restrictions, or are worried about cross contamination, street food may not be for you.
Pros of Street Food
There are definite Pros to Street Food! Street food can be a huge treat while traveling and is something not to be missed.
- You can see Street Food being cooked & handled
- Street Food is usually fast to get and easy to come by
- Street food may be available when restaurants are not open
- It is a great option when dining is overcrowded and you can’t wait
- It is usually a fun cultural experience and exchange
- Street food is generally accessible to all and may be a social norm
- Typical fare
- It is usually very yummy
- Street food is generally inexpensive
Guidelines To Enjoying Street Food
There are many pros and only a few cons to eating street food. There are a few general guidelines to enjoying Street food while minimizing issues.
- When taking out money on the street, be inconspicuous and try to have exact change. At minimum, have smaller bills out and available.
- In all locations, but especially if you are in a third world country, it may be best to choose food that is fried or well cooked in order to avoid bacteria.
- Items such as lettuce, raw vegetables, or undercooked meat may cause digestive or bacterial issues.
- Always use hand sanitizer before eating if there is no place to wash your hands with soap and water.
- If something looks extremely dirty, uncooked, or bug ridden, it is best to avoid it.
Steps to Safe Street Food Enjoyment
- Look for a cart that is crowded and popular.
- Visually assess the cart and vendor for obvious signs of health issues. This includes: open wounds; coughing or sneezing; excessive garbage; dirty utensils, cart, or cooking area; insects, rodents, or other animals; and the water source being used.
- Check to be sure your food is thoroughly cooked, especially meats.
- Inspect your food for anything that does not look edible or appropriate.
Generally speaking, street food is an awesome and relatively inexpensive way to participate in local culture and flavor. Use common sense and Enjoy!
See also Jenny In Wanderland article, Choosing a Restaurant Without Reading Reviews.