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!”

Taste even more of the world with Intrepid’s new and expanded feast of Real Food Adventures!

* photo by Sally Johnson in Turkey

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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This is exactly how I feel about traveling! I ate my way through the Bangkok street food scene and had many unforgettable meals (fave was sizzling frog legs in a hole in the wall on the banks of the Chao Phraya). Other all-time favorite meals were deep fried pigeon from a take-out window in an alley in Khan El Khalili Bazar in Cairo, and whole roasted lamb slowcooked in an earthen oven dug out of the desert sand in a Bedoiun camp in the Arabian Desert.'

hi all,
I agree wholeheartedly'

I agree wholeheartedly about the pad thai in Khao San Road – have never been able to better that dish from the street food stall there. And I have to agree with Lee’s comment about Athens! Greek food in Greece is among the best local food anywhere – except perhaps Vietnamese food in Vietman – I’m drooling thinking about all this food!'

I love greek food and you can do a foodie walking tour in Athens which is amazing – then enjoy a glass or two of wine overlooking the Parthenon

The mussels and camel burgers sound amazing. Wish I shared your experience. Will dream on. Thanks for the idea. Sara

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