You can’t really claim to know a place until you try its cuisine. Until you learn the smells, experience the flavors, taste its ingredients. And what better way to really find out more about the everyday life of a city or country than its street food?
Street food is more than a cheap and on-the-go lunch. It is part of culinary history that may have started on the street but has now entered kitchens of famous chefs from all over the world.
Here are the top ten street food you should try when traveling:
Satay comes from Indonesia, but it is a very popular dish in Thailand, leading some to believe it is a Thai dish. Slices of meat are marinated in coconut milk, spices, and turmeric. Then they are grilled over charcoal. Usually, a sweet and spicy peanut sauce accompanies satay. The dish is one of the most popular in all Southeast Asia.
Falafel originates from the Middle East (Israeli and Arabs vie over it), but nowadays you can find it almost everywhere. It consists of fried chickpea with coriander, cumin, paprika, garlic, onion, and fresh parsley. In some places, it is served with a yogurt sauce. Falafel can also mean a type of sandwich filled with the chickpea croquette. You can find it in a pita together with salad, pickled vegetables, hot sauce and spices, and a tahini sauce.
Germans know about sausages. Currywurst is a pork sausage, topped with a ketchup and curry sauce. It is accompanied by fries or bread. Some places sell it in pieces. Currywurst appeared in 1949 and soon became extremely popular.
The most famous culinary product of Jamaica is jerk chicken. The secret is the marinade, made with thyme, allspice berries, Scotch bonnet peppers, scallions, ginger, and oil or soy sauce. In Jamaica, they cook the meat differently: on top of logs of fresh pimento wood over the charcoal. That affects the final flavor and makes the meat ultra-tasty.
A whacky desert served in the Philippines. You can find similar dishes in all of Southeast Asia. Halo-halo means mix-mix. Almost everything can go into the sweet mix of flavors: from boiled kidney beans and sugar palm fruit to crushed rice and ice cream. It’s interesting, it’s colorful, it’s comfort food.
Souvlaki is a full meal in Greece. It has a pita (that substitutes bread), vegetables (usually tomato and lettuce), meat (most of the times the meat is pork or chicken) and tzatziki sauce (made from garlic and yogurt). You can also ask for gyro, which is meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Locals and tourists both love it.
One of the more tasty street foods in the world are churros from Spain. These are vertical fried donuts with melted chocolate on top or on the side. Churros have become popular outside Spain and are one of the country’s export goods.
In Peru, there is a national holiday for ceviche. It is basically raw fish with onion and chili peppers, marinated in citrus juice. Usually, they serve ceviche minutes after its preparation, in order to stay fresh. In Lima, they use sole, although sea bass is a popular choice.
The story says that arancini balls were invented when an emperor wanted to carry his rice with him whilst hunting. That was the beginning of this mouth-watering croquette. The main ingredients are risotto rice, mozzarella, and ragu. Arancini are extremely popular in Sicily, however, you can find them anywhere in Italy. You can even find variations (like the roman Suppli).
A humble Himalayan dumpling that became a star street food dish. Momos have a meat or vegetable filling, but their popularity has led to experimentation. Now you can find lots of different fillings and flavors, as well as different ways of cooking. There is the traditional steam-cooked momo, but you can also find deep-fried momos. There is also a dipping sauce on the side, called achar. The sauce is made with tomato as its base ingredient.