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#26 Street Food

February 21, 2011

This post was submitted by B. who blogs at at Hand to Mouth Kitchen. Follow B. on twitter @handtomouthb.

Expat Aid Workers love street food. If you are an expat who eats in the comfort of air-conditioned spaces, on plates, with cutlery or anywhere that has running water, then you are a clearly not a real EAW.  Real Expat Aid Workers are content to only eat the way locals do – on plastic stools, with their hands, with minimum hygienic food preparation.

Not only is eating at street stalls a great way to make local friendships, (allowing you to explain local culture to locals), get a particularly nasty tropical disease, or show off your street cred on Facebook; it’s also dirt CHEAP (and I hope a forthcoming post will soon dissect the EAW’s love of a good bargain).

Nothing says ‘well-traveled’, ‘nomad’, ‘mysterious’ and ‘loner’ than eating local street food.  You don’t need to tell anyone you’ve been here for a long time, that you get this place, because they can see it for themselves as you dig in (with your right hand) to that plate of chicken byriani or pupusas that you just bought from a corrugated tin shack covered in tarpaulins that were once part of a UNHCR NFI kit.

But a true EAW can’t be content with knowledge of street food in just one country.  If (despite your studious efforts to ignore them) some unlucky fellow expat does engage you in conversation at said stall, trying to assert his or her own appreciation for pupusas, you need only interject your knowledge of street food in other places to cement your global superiority in terms of food knowledge.

Take, for example, a veteran EAW stationed in India:

“Yeah, these pani puri are great, but I whenever I eat here I can’t help missing the bundigae we used to eat in South Korea in the 80s….silk worm larvae really are underappreciated by foreign palates.”

Our friend above has also interjected the final trump card when it comes to EAW’s and street food: appreciation for even the most hard-to-stomach incarnations of local cuisine.  EAWs cannot simply eat local street food, despite earning enough to occasionally eat in restaurants far beyond the price range of locals, nor should they be content with their encyclopaedic knowledge of street food in other parts of the world. The true EAW loves to eat everything, whether it be fermented meat buried in sand for 3 months, cow blood or silk worm larvae.

Oh yes, the expat aid worker loves street food.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Adotei permalink
    February 23, 2011 10:51 am

    Brilliant. But you forgot to menton the requisite knowledge of the appropriate local alochol to add either a splitting headache or fuzzy hangover to the gastric momoment. While beer – at room temperature of course- is more then acceptable, EAWs with pedigree should be able to refer to the specific vintages of palm wine in West Africa or the best amount of fermentation for kasippu in Sri Lanka (only to be accompanied by wild boar)
    Thanks again for sharing I can already feel the effects,….


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