When descending into a new country the foodie in me always takes over and awakens an innate need to sample the popular cuisine. Like almost any red-blooded human, I enjoy a good restaurant now and then.
However there is no better way to dive right into a culture than to taste their local street food. Often situated in a cart, these street chef geniuses have the ability to whip up a dish that can summarize a city in a single mouth-watering bite.
Vietnam: Banh Mi is a popular sandwich served throughout Vietnam consisting of grilled pork pickled carrots, daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, and Vietnamese mayonnaise, all stuffed into a French baguette. The flavors of the smoky meat, veggies and spices work together in harmony creating a masterpiece that is an absolute steal for only 30 cent each.
Mumbai, India: The Chowpatty Beach in Back Bay is one of Mumbai’s prime locations for top notch street food. A favorite; Bhel Puri – Sev (small fried noodles), red onion, potato, and cilantro served on a bed of puffed rice, and topped off with a spicy red tamarind chutney.
Florence, Italy: Many Americans aren’t very keen on the idea of cow stomach as a source of sustenance, however, the street cooks in Florence have the preparation of tripe down to an art. The meat is stewed with fragrant garlic until it’s perfectly tender, topped with chili red sauce, and placed inside a crispy roll.
Brussels, Belgium: Unlike American fries, the frites of Belgium stand their ground as a potato treat that’s a main course in itself. Cut from locally grown Bintje potatoes, this crispy, fresh, greaseless food is prepared to perfection when topped off with a dollop of mayonnaise, a few squirts of pineapple ketchup, or any of their other 20 complimentary dipping sauces.
Bangkok, Thailand: Som Tam is a salad that reigns in high favor throughout Bangkok for its combination of sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors. A fusion of grilled unripe papayas, dried shrimp, and peanuts, are tossed together in a mixture of palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice, and jumbled into a plastic bag for a snack that is the epitome of on-the-go.