Travelling abroad can mean a lot of time moving around and not a lot of time to browse the menus of several restaurants before making up your mind. Street food is cheap, easy and more often than not - the most hygienic food available. Here at Alpha we think that one of the best things about travelling around the world (other than exploring the sights) is also exploring the local cuisine - a careful path to tread, especially if you're particular with what you eat or have allergies. Anyway, here's our list of the top eight street dishes from our favourite destinations:
Jerk chicken, Jamaica
Visiting Jamaica is a pretty great experience in itself - the sugary sands and the warm sun make for a blissful getaway from the UK, but millions of people return here not for the sea, sand and sun - but for the amazing street food. In particular, jerk chicken.
This delicious dish isn't for those who aren't a fan of a little spice - the chicken is left overnight, smothered in a marinade made primarily of allspice, thyme, scotch bonnet chillies (the ones that make your eyes water), ginger and spring onions, before being grilled over a smoky wood fire. Incredible.
Banh Mi, Vietnam
For those of you choosing to backpack your way through Asia this year, trying banh mi is an experience you just have to enjoy. A dish whose legacy is a result of the French Colonial rule in the country, it actually involves a thin and crispy Vietnamese-style baguette filled with a healthy dollop of mayonnaise and a fresh mix of coriander, pickled carrot, daikon and succulent meat (usually pork belly or chicken).
Gelato, Anywhere in Italy
An Italian classic second only to traditionally cooked pasta, there is nothing comparable - not even Carte D'Or/Ben and Jerry's creamy favourites - which compare to the soft and flavoursome qualities of gelato. Less fatty than the ice cream we have back at home, this stuff comes in great flavours too - pistachio, stracciatella and some impressive fruits.
Not just available on the street, tostadas are a popular snack food here in Mexico. Street vendors do this dish justice though - tostadas are shaped into a small, flat disc and then fried (all fried stuff is good, right?) until crispy. You can often choose your toppings - choices range from Mexican classics like refried beans, guacamole, salsa or cheese to seafood options like shrimp ceviche.
Bhel Puri, India
Street snacks in India are wholesome and really great. Aloo tikka is better in the North of the country, and Vada is better in the South, but Mumbai (Bombay) is the best place to try a dish known as bhel puri - puffed rice, fried vermicelli noodles and vegetables drizzled in tamarind sauce. You can add extras like peanuts and pomegranate seeds, too.
Falafel is a popular Middle-Eastern dish which has seeped over into our Western supermarkets, and is popular amongst many, but experiencing ta'amiya is very different to its falafel brother. In Egypt, the recipe includes richer fava beans instead of chickpeas and is often served in a pitta bread with pickled vegetables, salad and tahini sauce.
Pad thai, Bangkok
Often described by backpackers and those following the almost-rite-of-passage route through Eastern Asia as the best thing they've ever eaten abroad, pad thai is a traditional Thai street food. A noodle dish served with eggs and tofu and later flavoured with things like tamarind pulp, fish sauce, dried shrimp, garlic, shallots, red chilli pepper and palm sugar with toppings including lime wedges and roast peanuts.
Not just your traditional sausage - currywurst is a unique blend of high-fat high-meat content sausage (one of the best kinds) slathered in a spicy curry-tomato sauce invented as Berlin lay in ruins after the Second World War. Perfect for when you're stumbling back to your accommodation slightly drunk on German beer, but also the perfect remedy for a moaning stomach after a day's sightseeing.
There's undoubtedly even more dishes we have yet to try - and we can't wait! Let us know your favourites via our Facebook and Twitter pages, and don't forget to invest in some good quality travel insurance for your trip - street food might be better than restaurant food but it doesn't completely eliminate the chances of getting food poisoning - something which might require urgent medical attention abroad. With an Alpha Travel Insurance policy, you can have peace of mind knowing that you won't be faced with a large medical bill when you return home from your travels.
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