The Intriguing Mauritius Street Food

The Best Street Food in the Island

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Mauritius is an island nation that is part of the African continent and home of the now extinct dodo bird. On a global scale, this 788 square mile volcanic island is barely getting any attention – and in this day and time, that’s actually a very good sign of stability.

The street food of Mauritius is a fantastic blend of European, Asian, and African flavors and has been dubbed “culinary heaven” by those who have visited and sampled the food. In fact, if there is any country that must be visited for its extraordinary yet simple food – it’s Mauritius.
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It’s Time to Try Ugandan Street Food

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Uganda is a land-locked East African country that was once a British colony. The main export industries of Uganda are coffee, tea, and fish. It is a country with rich natural resources, untapped natural and crude gas reserves yet remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Street food in Uganda is everywhere which is a clear sign of the people trying to earn a living any which way possible.

The Ugandan cuisine is a blend of Asian, Arab, Indian, and English influences. Most dishes use starch, meat, and beans. The starch content is either from corn, potatoes, or bananas. The food is simple in spite of the range of influences in the cuisine. Some of the popular street foods in the main cities of Uganda are:

Chapati – Probably the most popular of all Ugandan food is Chapati which is more commonly known as “Rolex.” This is grilled chicken with fried egg wrapped around it and served with beans and rice. It’s cheap, filling, and nutritious.

Matoka – This is the most popular banana variety in Uganda although there are 5 other types. It is almost always served with a meat dish like stew. As a side dish it is either boiled or mashed and then topped with groundnut sauce.

Samosa – These are filled patties that come from the Indian influence. The usual flavor is curried

Mugati – This is a folded flatbread made of eggs and flour with a raw egg and minced meat inside the fold then fried or served on a hotplate

The main issue with Ugandan street food is sanitation. Obviously the food is cheap and more than 40% of Ugandans buy food from street vendors. The vendors are usually untrained in food handling which increases the possibility of unsafe food. It is critical that one buys food that is cooked in front of you instead of buying something that is on display. In some cases, the food isn’t even cooked on the spot but elsewhere and delivered to the vendor, increasing the chances of contamination.

The Ugandan government has a Public Health Act that allows a city health inspector to prevent any street vendor from selling. Unfortunately, the system is not perfect and issues like unclean water or lack of water could lead to a serious medical problem.


Finding The Best Street Food In The World

If it were possible to hold a buffet dinner with all the best street food in the world, these are the food items you should include in the menu.

The Appetizer

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For appetizers, serve a Canadian street food called Poutine. This is really a great way to present crispy French fries as it is served with brown gravy and fresh cheese curd. Canadians love to dive into this street food for their snack or midnight meal especially in places like Quebec. Canadians say that this particular street food has “day after” powers which cure you from over-drinking or too much partying.

Another appetizer could be the chili crabs from Singapore. Chili crab can be considered a staple food in this bustling city and is a great way to whet the appetite of your guests since you can play around with the spiciness of the dish.

The Main Courses

For your main courses, you must have the jerk chicken of Jamaica, pulled pork from good ol’ U.S.A., and Indonesian basko balls with noodles.

The authentic Jamaican jerk chicken is a wonderful treat that offers great flavor and food experience not likely to be easily forgotten by your guests. It is a succulent grilled dish served with tons of herbs and spices although it can also be cooked over low heat and served with rice and vegetable sidings.

Pulled pork is a favorite street food in the country and so your guests will find at least one item on your menu that looks and tastes familiar. You can serve this as a mini sandwich appetizer or as a main course. Either way, it will probably be the most popular dish of the night, so make sure you have lots.

The basko balls of Indonesia can also be served as an appetizer but is a complete meal on its own. The basko balls can be your vegetarian dish since you already have a pork and chicken dish in your menu. Basko balls can also be served as a soup with kelp noodles and fried rice. This street food burst into the international scene after U.S. President Barack Obama proclaimed it to be “a most delicious meal” during a state visit to Jakarta.


The Dessert

One of the best ways to end a meal is with something refreshing and sweet and you can have this with the Philippine’s halo-halo. This is an iced dessert with about 10 to 12 different ingredients like milk, sugar, jackfruit, red beans, gulaman (or jelly bits) of different colors, coconut bits, garbanzos, and ice cream.  Thailand has a similar dessert with baby sago, pearls, coconut syrup, and fruits that is simply divine and worth every spoonful.

Asia’s Strangest and Surprisingly Delicious Street Food

Street food in Beijing, China
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If you travel around Asia, you will notice one very obvious fact: street food is a way of life. There are food carts, stalls, tables, and even walking food vendors in almost all streets in many major cities of Asia. Most certainly, it would be impossible to go hungry while touring Asia especially countries like China and Thailand. Here are some of the crazy and bizarre street foods from Bangkok and many streets in China.

Deep Fried Spiders – Anyone with arachnophobia or the fear of spiders would probably start to imagine these creepy crawlers being offered as food and start to scream in panic right about now. However, as long as you stay away from the streets of Hangzhou or Cambodia where it is the national delicacy, you won’t easily find them as street food. If you do happen to come across, they’re about $2 for 10 large pieces. They are black, huge, and very crispy with a gooey substance inside that tastes remarkably like chicken.

Duck Heads – While in the U.S. this would be a clothing brand, in Asia, it is street food. Traditionally, animal heads were eaten by poor peasants at a time when meat was expensive or when there was a famine. This is how it got to be popular as street food. Today, you may come across it in fancy Chinese restaurants although in many cases, the heads are served with instructions on how to enjoy the dish.

Flying Lizards – In London, they are a band. In California, it is a design shop in Capitola Village. In Beijing, its lizards grilled on a stick.

Street food in Beijing, China
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Sea Horse, Scorpions, and Crickets – Take them fried or grilled, these are more animals that are sold on the streets of China and in many of their street markets. One tip from a local is to be sure to bite them down to small pieces so the legs or other parts don’t tickle your throat when you swallow.

Fruit Wines – There are some Asian markets that sell fruit wines made in home kitchens like Thai ginseng wine, strawberry wine, loganberry wine, and lychee wine. You don’t have to buy the whole bottle because the vendors sell by the glass. The average price for one glass of wine is about $1.

Papaya Salad – Steering away from the ultra bizarre is an unusual street food dish simple called papaya salad or Som Tum. It is sold in Bangkok and was once the peasant’s food. The story goes that a Thai princess tried it and loved it so much, she wrote a song about it thereby making it a popular dish for all. It is made from green, unripe papaya shredded and mixed with other vegetables like cucumber, carrots, salty crabs, beans, spices, and peanuts. It is often served as a side dish to barbequed meat and sticky rice.

Contrary to popular opinion, most street vendors in Asia practice good hygiene and sanitation. They are also monitored by the local government which is why it is very rare for anyone to succumb to ill effects from eating from a street food vendor provided the food is cooked in front of you.

South Africa’s Food Road Trip with the South African Baz Bus

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Baz Bus
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Just like Europe has the Eurorail, South Africa offers backpackers and those who have an adventurous spirit to try their Baz Bus. This is a hop on, hop off bus service with a one ticket system. All you need to do is buy one ticket to your destination. You can hop on and hop off at any point from the time you leave your point of origin to the time you reach your ticket destination. From end to end, there are 40 cities, villages, and towns. A ticket holder is not pressured to get to his or her destination because there is no time limit. Is this not the food trip, fully-packed adventure of a lifetime or not?

The best way to plan your trip on the Baz Bus is to indulge in your food cravings for local street cuisine. Some of the most popular street foods in South Africa are:

Biltong – This is dried meat you can buy at any convenience store, bus stop. It’s a salty snack and comes in chili or barbeque flavors. Read the packaging before you buy since different meat is used. Some are made from springbok, beef, or ostrich.

Gatsby – This sandwich is found in many streets in Cape Town. It looks like a typical deli sandwich but has hot chips, hot sauce, and a South African pickle called atchar served with meat on a baguette.

The Smiley – Be ready to grit your teeth when you bite into this barbequed sheep’s head usually sold with bread good enough for 4 people and a liter of soda. The eyeballs and brains are especially delicious. It’s a great meal on the road and is called so because of the toothy smile you see on the sheep when it comes off the braai.

The Bunny Chow – This meal is common in many places around the country but more so in Durban because of the large Indian community. It’s a fabulous curry meal served on a hollowed bread bun.

Samoosa – Found in Cape Town, the samoosa is a cheap pastry-filled fried snack that can contain meat and vegetables or just vegetables for those who can’t eat meat. It has Malay and Muslim influences and is convenient because you can easily tuck into your backpack to eat on the bus.

There are other South African street foods like the sausage sandwiches called the boerie roll, sosatie which is lamb or beef barbeque, and pap en vieis which is a corn meal with chicken. With pap, just make sure you buy from a vendor who has a lot of customers or is recommended by someone you can trust. There have been cases of poorly slaughtered chicken that have caused stomach and digestion problems.