As I travelled in India last month before returning for a few days in Bangkok on my way to Bali, I observed the wonders of well-coordinated markets in a vast variety of informal street pedlars.
As one that travels light, I seldom buy geegaws or souvenirs. But I constantly search for interesting local food. As it turns out, some of the best on offer is found on street stalls that are so obviously lacking in apparent hygiene that most are tourists driven away from such culinary adventures.
Some, perhaps most, might find it disquieting to see plates & utensils being washed on the side of the road in rather non-sudsy & brackish water or put off by a lack of seating spaces.
Like all things in life, the search for gastronomic pleasures involves tradeoffs. In this case, it is usually only the hardier & more open-minded travelers that find bliss in wonderful food that is both satisfying & cheap.
You queasy types must remember that what is offered meets standards of local people that dine in these places without “reassurances” of licensing or certification from health ministries. In all events, neither 5-star ratings nor bureaucratic stamps of approval provide iron-clad guarantees. Last time I had a serious bout of food poisoning was after eating oysters at the squeaky-clean restaurant of the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong!
As it is, profit-driven street vendors have an incentive to ensure that their regular customers do not become sick. (Visitors afflicted by intestinal disorders probably lack certain indigenous bacteria in their guts that ward off upsets. As for me, I build up immunities by eating lots of yoghurt & local honey on arrival.)
By trusting the market rather than your eyes, you can happily enjoy delights like sate kambing (small bits of goat meat grilled on skewers) or sate anjing (same but with dog!?!) on Bali. Photos attached….
Bon appétit! Oh, and be sure to bring your own napkins (& maybe some Immodium)!