One of the best ways to learn about and enjoy a local culture is to try the street food. It gets you away from the tourist traps, and brings you in touch with the people who actually live there. Of course, you can’t just go running nilly-willy up to the first vendor you see. Otherwise you could end up with serious problems, such as Montezuma’s Revenge. But there are several common sense things you can do to lessen this possibility and keep a safe stomach.
Budget Travel has some advice to help you in this regard.
From Budget Travel: The first rule of thumb for keeping a safe stomach: If your lodgings don’t allow you to flush toilet paper, don’t drink the water. It’s a sign you’re visiting a region with an unsafe water supply. That also means no ice cubes or diluted juices or cocktails with water or ice, no swallowing shower water, and no brushing your teeth with tap water.
As for our interest – street food – we’ve highlighted a few of these ideas before, but it can’t hurt to have a little refresher.
- Pick a cart with a long line and quick turnover, which means food is hot and fresh. Certain vendors are popular because their food is tastier and safer-it’s worth the extra minutes in line.
- Make sure food is served piping hot. If it’s been left out to cool, it could be harboring a growing colony of bacteria. This cannot be good for a safe stomach.
- Fly from flies. Never eat food that isn’t protected from insects, which can contaminate even freshly cooked dishes.
- Go with your instincts. If surfaces don’t look clean and you don’t see a place where workers can wash their hands, pass.
- Bring your own bowl and utensils. It may sound impractical, but in developing regions, improper washing of serving dishes may transmit microorganisms that can make you sick.
- Return to a cart you’ve enjoyed. Finding a vendor serving safe, delicious food can be the beginning of a beautiful friendship-he may even share recipes if you ask. [Budget Travel]
Sounds like excellent advice for enjoying a safe and delicious holiday. Bon voyage!