When we travel we enjoy getting to know a destination through its culinary character, but in a way that is safe, savory and sustainable. Travel TV shows and guides have made it quite trendy in recent years to promote street food as a way to get a raw indulgence of travel destinations. While many may compare it to the notion of unhealthy ‘comfort’ or ‘indulgence’ food at home, there are some risks to this practice which are just bad calls for travelers.
First of all, street food is not the only “authentic” way to experience local cuisine?
This is a curious claim, we get it, the food stands or carts or trucks may be what people rushing to and from work and home may indulge in readily, but more likely than not, street food is just something for locals to get energy, not to savor. Why can’t a trendy bar like the one we found in Chengdu, be a local place too?
Secondly, local food may be a particular dish or combination of ingredients, or another country’s dish reimagined!
but an interpretation of another type of cuisine in a place can equally be local. We were fascinated by the exhaustive number of Italian restaurants in Japan. It is one of their favorite things to eat and any Japanese would hold it in similar regard to sushi.
Third, why not give a restaurant or a hotel the chance to wow you with local cooking?
We’ve been wary of street food in places like Thailand or Sichuan Province in China where the definition of “hot” or “spicy” can be very different than many other places. St. Regis in Chengdu provided a beautiful interpretation of vegetarian spicy noodles for us to try that they knew would be more suited to Western taste buds.
Fourth, think of your trip overall.
Is it really worth it to get sick from food that has bacteria you are not accustomed too, food that has been sitting out for who knows how long or other unmentionables? Even if you have the best travel insurance of the world, it won’t give you back the lost time and health. Yes you can get sick anywhere, but at least some places have far less complications than others. The quest for authenticity in travel is noble, but we prefer to travel safe, prudent and allow the experts on site introduce us to their best cooking in delicious comfort.