The Eight Best Cities for Street Food
Why don’t we eat it in the road?
For more images of street food, visit the image gallery.
image by Josep Pique Alecha
From banana leaves stuffed with sticky rice sold for a few baht on a Thai train to roasted chestnuts proffered in paper cones in Zurich, street food—the cuisine of the people—is found in practically every country. Not all roadside culinary traditions are created equal, however. Forget all fears of Montezuma’s revenge and visit the world’s most delicious street food destinations.
Every evening, the Djemma al Fna, Marrakech’s main square, morphs into a street food mecca. Hundreds of stalls strung with lightbulbs host Moroccan and foreign tourists in nearly equal measure. Locals prefer to eat in their homes, where food is prepared by women. On the street, it’s men who do the cooking. The overall experience is far from calm—vendors will tug on your shirtsleeves or flirt with your girlfriend to entice takers. Any table you choose is the best seat in the house. Dishes such as sheep’s head and couscous are prepped with a dose of theater. Also look for bubbling cauldrons of herb-infused escargots and follow the lead of Moroccans by plucking the snails from their shells using safety pins. For tamer tastes, there are brochettes (kabobs of minced beef) and chicken tagine.
Recommended: Cheap and filling, harira soup is a traditional Moroccan broth of chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and turmeric. At the Djemma al Fna, it’s eaten with a scooped spoon made of citron wood. Get upsold on the honeyed tangles of sweet dough called shbekkia, a popular harira accompaniment.
In markets that spill from narrow alleys and ancient squares, vendors shout their prices while they’re boiling fresh artichokes and hawking chickpea fritters called panelle. There’s caponata—a Sicilian eggplant dish made with capers that’s similar to ratatouille—cannoli, and baked rice balls called arancini, too. More adventurous eaters can opt for pani ca meusa, a sandwich made from simmered beef spleen and perhaps a bit of lung.
Recommended: One of the most delicious snacks is fresh octopus. “It’s cooked on the spot,” says traveler Agnes Weber of Lyon, France. “They fetch it out of a big pan full of boiling water, cut a piece for you on a small plastic plate, put a bit of lemon on it all, and you eat it there in the street. I just love it!”
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