food

Breaking All the Food Rules

Breaking All the Food Rules 640 480 Greg Ellifritz

I get a lot of questions from first time travelers about what foods to avoid when traveling in foreign countries.  I would love to be able to provide an all inclusive list, but, like many things “it depends.”

 

It took a whole chapter in my book Choose Adventure to adequately cover the basics.  If you want my best advice, see the chapter “Eating and Drinking (Without Dying).”

 

Until then, let me stress that in many places you can break all of the “food rules” for international travel and still be safe.  Here was my lunch yesterday.  It was a big dish of ceviche and a Caesar salad with shrimp.

 

The food Nazis would be very unhappy with this meal.  It breaks a lot of “The Rules.”

 

Lets start with the salad.  Everyone knows that it’s unsafe to eat salads in foreign countries.  The cooks wash the lettuce with local water which may be contaminated with bacteria and viruses.  Except in the high end restaurants that cater to tourists.  Those folks know to wash the produce with purified water instead of tap water so that all their guests don’t get sick.

 

Would I eat raw unwashed produce straight from a market in Bolivia?  Probably not.  But at the high end Mexican resort where I’m staying this week, it’s likely fine.  If you have any doubts, ask your waiter.

 

The next taboo is eating any dairy or cheese.  My salad had both cheese and a creamy dressing.  That’s supposed to be bad.  It is bad if it is stored un-refrigerated on an island without electricity in Nicaragua.  At a nice restaurant?  You are going to be fine.

 

Finally, we get to the ceviche.  It’s uncooked (but essentially “cooked” in citrus juice) fish, shrimp, and octopus.  Raw meat and seafood breaks all the rules.  Again, context matters.  I’ve eaten raw sushi all over the world.  I wouldn’t choose the sushi in a land-locked country without reliable electricity, but in a coastal town, that fish is far more fresh than most of the fish in your home supermarket.

 

Take a look at the photo above.  That’s kudu carpaccio that I ate in Zimbabwe.  Yes, it’s raw antelope meat.  Yes, I’m in a country that has been undergoing a complete financial and societal collapse for the last 20 years.  The hamburgers on the street there are cut with sawdust to make the patties bulkier.  I wouldn’t eat those.

 

Why did I eat the raw antelope?  Because it was in the country’s best restaurant and it likely had good safety practices.  Kudu in Zimbabwe is like fish in coastal Mexico.  It’s likely to be very extremely fresh and some of the safest food I could eat.

 

Sometimes you can relax the commonly touted “food rules” for international travel.  Sometimes doing that can cause horrible issues.  You have to be smart enough to know the difference.

 

Excuse me, it’s time for me to get a second helping of that ceviche.

Traveling in Egypt

Traveling in Egypt 789 395 Greg Ellifritz

All of my readers who are contemplating a trip to Egypt should watch this video.

 

Egypt Travel Nightmare!! Why I’ll Never Go Back!!

 

 

I enjoyed my trip to Egypt 15 years ago.  I wouldn’t be excited about the prospect of traveling there right now.  Lots of folks are reporting similar hassles and significant security concerns.  I agree with the producer of these videos.  Don’t go to Egypt right now.

 

 

 

Street Food

Street Food 1920 1000 Greg Ellifritz

I make it a point to eat street food as often as possible whenever I travel in third world countries.  Contrary to popular belief, the food is fresher and prepared in a more sanitary manner than the food you will find in most tourist restaurants.

 

Read this article for some tips and then go get some street meat!

 

How to Eat Street Food Without Getting Sick

Street Food

Street Food 720 960 Greg Ellifritz

I make it a point to eat street food as often as possible whenever I travel in third world countries. Having just returned from a month in Mexico, I can assure you that I took advantage of the nearby food carts and taco trucks for lunches and dinners several times a week.

 

Contrary to popular belief, street food is usually fresher and prepared in a more sanitary manner than the food you will find in the tourist restaurants. Read the article for some tips and then go get some street meat!

 

How to Eat Street Food Without Getting Sick

 

How can you pass up a Belgian fry truck in Playa del Carmen?

 

I had to draw the line at the dude selling sushi out of a cooler from his ATV on the street. Not quite that adventurous.

 

 

Foreign Food Etiquette

Foreign Food Etiquette 1280 700 Greg Ellifritz

Don’t make a culinary faux pas.  Read the article below to learn about how dining customs vary across cultures.

 

An International guide to food and eating etiquette

 

Weird Foods

Weird Foods 1912 2560 Greg Ellifritz

One of the things I enjoy the most about traveling is trying new foods.  Over the years, I’ve eaten some adventurous things.

Eating fried caterpillars in Zimbabwe

 

Freshly caught piranha in Brazil

 

Stuffed rabbit in Cuba

 

Grilled guinea pig in Ecuador

 

How adventurous of an eater are you when you travel?  Check out the list below and start counting!

 

Weird Food Bucket List: 60 Strange Foods From Around the World

 

For what it’s worth, I’ve eaten 20 of the 60 foods.  So much more good stuff to try!

 

If you want to eat adventurously, but worry about dying, I have a whole chapter in my book that explains how to eat and drink safely in a foreign country.

 

 

The absolute worst food I’ve ever eaten. Duck blood soup (served over raw pig lungs) in Vietnam

 

“Street Meat”

“Street Meat” 750 499 Greg Ellifritz

Most guidebooks will instruct you to “never eat street food.”

 

That’s bullshit.  Street food is often the safest option for travelers.  It’s prepared fresh and is still hot.  It hasn’t sat overnight on a rat and cockroach infested counter in a restaurant kitchen waiting to be rewarmed in a microwave.  Besides that.  It’s delicious.  Just look at all of these amazing street foods at the link below:

 

Best Street Food Around the World: 50 Favorite Street Food Dishes

 

I’ve eaten most of the foods listed for the countries I’ve visited and have not yet gotten sick from any “street meat.”.

 

Look for a vendor who is cooking the food in front of you and a long line of locals.  If you do that, you’ll likely be fine.

 

If you want some more information on street dining, pick up a copy of my book or check out the links below.

 

How to Eat Street Food Anywhere in the World Without Getting Sick

THE ULTIMATE STREET FOOD SAFETY CHECKLIST: HOW TO EAT LIKE A CAUTIOUS LOCAL

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the above links (from Amazon.com) are affiliate links.   As an Amazon associate I earn a small percentage of the sale price from qualifying purchases.

If you would like to further support my work, head over to my Patreon page.