Confessions of a travel food snob
A peanut butter sandwich might suffice at home, but when you’re travelling food is no longer just fuel for your body, it’s part of the adventure! Intrepid’s Jennifer Chandler reveals her compulsion to track down the world’s most exotic and tasty street foods…
“I’m not the biggest foodie in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love my nosh, but I have a secret obsession with golden arches and chicken that is deep fried. I sneak through drive-thrus late at night then stash the evidence in the neighbours’ garbage bins.
Despite this low-brow approach to food, something comes over me when I travel. I snort at people ordering pizza at their hotel, I roll my eyes at tourists making a Macca’s run and I seek out the most local, authentic food I can. I am a travel food snob.
I didn’t start that way, it just happened. Food became the thing I bragged about most when I returned home. The more exotic, the better. But it wasn’t my ego doing the talking, it was my tastebuds. Because nine times out of ten my best travel memories have been food related. And nine times out of ten, these meals have been on the street bought on the spur of the moment from a street stall vendor.
In Turkey we were in Cannakale, by the Dardanelles taking a sunset walk. And there he was, the street seller with the most amazing mussels I have ever had. Ever. We asked for one each. By the time we’d swallowed them he was already handing us the next one, then the next one, then the next one. Normally I would have got frustrated and asked him to stop – but he knew we were hooked. To this day I have no idea what was in them. But my taste buds exploded. And a couple of dollars later we’d eaten half his cart.
In Thailand we went on a search for the perfect Pad Thai. We tried all manner of retsaurants, some fancy, some simple. Then we discovered Kho San Road. OK, it’s a tourist mecca, but wow the food is good. We watched the Pad Thai thrown together and cooked in front of us. No doubt about its freshness. It was divine, delightful, flavoursome, stunning. And the best bit? We followed up with nutella and banana pancakes from the next street seller down. And the even better bit? We washed that down with a Pina Colada from the next street seller down. A progressive dinner in one of the most exciting streets in the world.
Next on my list of street stall brags is camel burgers in Marrakech. Apparently you order your choice of meat at one stall, watch it get cooked then ferry it across the medina to another stall where it is thrown into fresh pita and decorated with all manner of Moroccan condiments. Sounds like my kind of food adventure!”
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* photo by Sally Johnson in Turkey