Travelers on a budget are well versed in the art of eating at food stalls. These vendors can save you a ton of money and can be a delicious way to experience the culinary culture of a people. However, no one enjoys multiple trips to the toilet after a bad experience. Here are 8 tips to follow when choosing a food stall to side step Montezuma’s Revenge.
Pick a busy stall. A busy stall is a good sign the food is turned over quickly. That means it hasn’t been sitting there gathering bacteria. It can also mean the food is tasty!
Note the stallholder’s hygiene. If the cook is sweating into the food or handling money and food with the same hand, reconsider your stall choice. Are all the ingredients being stored separately? Is the cooking station clean and organized?
Carry your own eating utensils. I always carry my own eating utensils. I have a bamboo set of chopsticks, knife, fork, and spoon. It means I don’t have to dive into the same box of plastic forks or chopsticks everyone else is touching with their grubby hands.
Follow local meal times. Otherwise, you might be eating food that has been sitting around for hours. Food that’s been sitting around makes an ideal breeding ground for bugs like Salmonella, E Coli, and Campylobacter. Pick a stall that cooks to order, not one that has a big vat of food sitting around.
If you have allergies, print out a translation card in the local language. Be specific. The same goes if you are vegan or vegetarian.
Make sure the hot food is cooked through. Believe me, speaking from experience, you do not want to invite food poisoning to the party. Food at 160F (71C) will burn your mouth. Your food should be so hot you need to let it cool a little before eating, otherwise, it wasn’t hot enough to start with.
Don’t risk it! If it looks questionable walk away. It’s just not worth it.
If the water isn’t drinkable, neither is the ice. People forget that ice is made from the same tap water as the drinking water. Stick to bottled drinks and make sure the seal isn’t broken.
Food stall eating can be a terrific experience, you just have to use your common sense. What are your tips and tricks for avoiding food poisoning on the road? Please share in the comments below!