There is no better way to understand a culture than through its food. Food plays a huge part in the travelling experience because you encounter new cuisines and flavours that are unique to the place. When in Rome, do as the Romans do – what better way to explore the place than to hit up the hawker stalls and taste the home-cooked meals where the locals themselves feast.
Here are the top four best street food countries in the world:
Taiwan is known to have one of the best night market scenes in the world and is often referred to as the ‘melting pot of cuisines’. With a small space at home, the Taiwanese prefer to head out to the streets to grab themselves some ‘xiao chi’ (cheap snacks), which usually costs less than £1.50 per dish. With such cheap food, you can easily explore all of Taiwan’s famous snacks. One in particular is known for its strong and stinky smell, the stinky tofu, however once you bite into its crispy outer layer, the smell disappears. The famous Shilin night market lives up to its reputation of being a street food haven; no doubt you will be stuffed with food by the end of the night.
The smell of food always lingers in the streets of Morocco, and even more in Marrakesh. Its magic lies within the red clay walls where the vibrant colours, atmosphere, smells and food stalls give you that quintessential Marrakesh experience. In the evenings, the locals gather at Jemaa el-Fnaa square, the main ‘souk’ (marketplace), to share the tasty Moroccan delicacies with the locals and tourists. The Moroccans have a sweet tooth; you will find countless numbers of beautifully decorated pastries and cookies in the souks, especially during Ramadhan, where the Muslims indulge themselves with sweets as they break fast for the day. Don’t forget to try out the snail soup, which is believed to be good for digestion and fever.
Turkey is another well-known food paradise where street food is very affordable. In 1502, when Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire, it became the first country to enact and standardise street food; hence street food is an old Turkish tradition that still thrives today, particularly in Istanbul. Even the renowned simit (a bagel-like pastry) dates back to 1525. As Turkey is almost completely bordered by sea, another common delicacy is the balik-ekmek (fish sandwiches), where mackerel is grilled and served with Turkish bread and salad. It is especially popular in the Eminönü neighbourhood of Istanbul where it is the food of the fisherman and workers in historic times.
The Colombian street food scene comprises of fried food, Caribbean seafood, creamy beverages and corn dishes. There is no better place to immerse yourselves into the food scene than in the colourful Cartagena de Indias, a preserved fairytale-like colonial city. All the city’s delicacies are hidden within the 13 kilometres of old colonial stone wall, where you will see vendors selling arepas (corn bread) at almost every plaza, usually served with cheese, fermented milk or avocado. Located next to the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena offers a refreshing citrusy raw seafood dish – ceviche – which is popular among the locals but is not for those with a weak stomach, as it’s raw. It’s the best place to grab some good grub, and roam through the cobbled streets.
Affordable, delicious, and quick; what more can we ask for? Street food is the best way to explore cultures through the food scene.