Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Eating street food in South Asia.

Posted by Agee on 24/10/2013 at 10:30

Hi,

What about food? Is it safe to eat street food in SouthAsia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam)? I'm asking in particular about allthose insects, spiders, snakes etc...after all most of them are friedwith guts eggs and excrement... We've heard that eating fishes in Bangkokis not such a good idea as some of them are caught in river channels andcan have various bacteria and parasites? We have following vaccines:HepatitisA and B, Typhoid fever, Polio, Tetanus
What about fresh fruits? Is there anythingthat should be avoided by person from Europe?

Thanks for help!
Agee.

#1 Agee has been a member since 27/9/2013. Posts: 8

Posted by Geer1 on 24/10/2013 at 11:14

You probably shouldn't eat anything if you want to live a boring life and not have to worry about possibly getting sick.

Or you can live a little and know there is a very small chance that you may get sick and that even if you do it will likely be minor and pass within a day or two.

Imo and as Andrew Zimmern says, if it looks good eat it.

#2 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by chinarocks on 24/10/2013 at 11:14

Eating street food in SE Asia doesn't have to equate to consuming spiders, snakes and the like. I have eaten a lot of street food in Asia and never once did I (knowingly) eat any of those items.

From my experience, street food will typically consist of chicken skewers, fresh spring rolls, corn on the cob, noodles, meat and salad sandwiches and many more types of things. I guess street food is what you make it, a lot of people would never go near it - I personally thought it was the best way to eat over there - cheap, tasty and prepared by people who seemed in the know. Nor is there any reason to suspect that the food quality will be compromised, it is often quite the contrary as it is freshly prepared right in front of you so no funny business 'out back' and a high turnover of customers should further ensure freshness.

I reckon you should only go to places that are busy and seem to be at least partially frequented by locals. Running water is probably also a good thing.

#3 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by Agee on 24/10/2013 at 12:46

The thing is, that I really want to try a spider/insects.

What's more, I'm wondering if any of you tried fruits and didn't end with diarrhea. If answer is yes, that's mean I'm safe.

#4 Agee has been a member since 27/9/2013. Posts: 8

Posted by antoniamitchell on 24/10/2013 at 12:54

Well, I never tried spiders but I figure it can't be too different from soft-shell crabs.

You're doctor will probably drill into you the "don't eat any fruit you haven't peeled yourself" mantra, but for me? That rule went out the window the second I got on the plane. I ate fruit all over the place and never got sick.

Sure, you could be unlucky.... but you hopefully won't.

#5 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Location: Singapore. Posts: 499
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Posted by Geer1 on 24/10/2013 at 18:30

Seriously man... The chances of getting sick from eating a fruit anywhere in the world is like 1 in a million... Doesn't matter if you are in Thailand etc. If anything a lot of their fruit is healthier because they use less pesticides etc on them.

Just relax, stop worrying and go have fun. If you really want to be on the safe side take some travellers diarrhoea pills with you just in case.

#6 Geer1 has been a member since 14/9/2012. Posts: 540
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Posted by antoniamitchell on 25/10/2013 at 00:47

Sorry, that should be "your doctor" in my post above - so embarrassed!

#7 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Location: Singapore. Posts: 499
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Posted by daawgon on 25/10/2013 at 11:09

Just use a little common sense - would you eat from a dirty establishment at home? One cannot generalize about this subject. I have seen cleaner street stalls than some fancy/expensive restaurants, and you're not really experiencing Asia unless you try different things. If your attitude about Asia is just about the creepy crawlies, maybe you should stick to plane-jane and sterile environments instead?

#8 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,112

Posted by Agee on 25/10/2013 at 14:33

Hi Guys,

Thanks for your ideas! We've met some problems in Egypt, especially with water fruits (watermelon, melon) that's why I'm asking for details.

Cheers,
Agee.

#9 Agee has been a member since 27/9/2013. Posts: 8

Posted by amnicoll on 26/10/2013 at 05:54

I have eat street food all over SE Asia and still do. Generally it is safe (and indeed safer than eating western food) but there is always the chance you may be unlucky. Avoid things like oysters and mussels (especially inland) and raw meat but generally anything that is being cooked in front of you should be OK.

have eaten dog, snakes and spiders many times knowingly with no ill effects but often I have no idea what I am eating at the time but so what

#10 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by christa213 on 8/9/2014 at 10:53

hello! don't try eating this kind of street food since it is unsafe to it plus you don't know where it came from. That's my best advice for you

#11 christa213 has been a member since 19/8/2014. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 8/9/2014 at 12:57

I don't have the fascination with street food that a lot of tourists do, but God knows I've eaten enough of it - it's cheap. I've gotten sick a bit a few times from it, but no biggy. I'm not eating the insects, which I consider revolting, but my daughter loves 'em, and they don't seem to make her sick.

#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by nikitushu on 29/9/2014 at 12:26

It's quite dangerous to eat food in street of these countries. I would go to the cafe or maybe to the cheap restaurant)

#13 nikitushu has been a member since 29/9/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by amnicoll on 30/9/2014 at 05:37

sorry Niktushu I disagree with you especially for Thailand but also the other countries

#14 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by MADMAC on 1/10/2014 at 04:18

"Quite dangerous"???? You must have a very low bar for the definition of dangerous.

#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by stockbrokers on 2/10/2014 at 22:49

spiders are delicious, dont eat scorpion, it tastes like plastic toys

#16 stockbrokers has been a member since 30/9/2014. Posts: 7

Posted by amnicoll on 3/10/2014 at 06:28

In my experience the things they add to the oil that they are fried in makes a difference - esp garlic and chilli

#17 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by MADMAC on 3/10/2014 at 11:49

"In my experience the things they add to the oil that they are fried in makes a difference - esp garlic and chilli"


My daughter: "Papa, you want some fried bugs?"


Me: "No baby. I don't eat insects. They're dirty."


Daughter: "But Papa, grass hoppers taste good. Spiders taste good."


Me: "Hey sewer rat might taste like pumpkin pie, but I wouldn't know because I won't eat the filthy ************."

#18 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by antoniamitchell on 3/10/2014 at 12:19

Thank you, Jules.

#19 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Location: Singapore. Posts: 499
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Posted by MADMAC on 3/10/2014 at 12:38

Your welcome Vincent.

#20 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by amnicoll on 4/10/2014 at 04:51

madmac - Perhaps I should lunch with your daughter!!

#21 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by MADMAC on 4/10/2014 at 23:32

She might look like a little white girl, but her palate is Thai / issan. She'll eat things that would make a billy goat puke.

#22 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by amnicoll on 5/10/2014 at 07:01

Sounds like the ideal dining companion especially if she speaks Thai and can order for me. Would the billy goat be on the menu as well?

#23 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by MADMAC on 5/10/2014 at 07:33

She is fun to travel with actually. She loves to ride with me. Thai is her first language, but she's fluent in English as that is the language we speak at home (most of the time). And of course she speaks Lao... not surprising given where we live. It's funny when we go to a restaurant where we are not known.

#24 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by amnicoll on 5/10/2014 at 07:44

Children who love their food are always a delight especially if you are catering for them when they visit or eating out with them

#25 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by MADMAC on 5/10/2014 at 13:34

We were riding to my father in laws one time and the place we usually stop at in Laung Nok Tha was closed. It was a hot day and we were both thirsty and hungry, in that order. So we drove on a little ways and finally just decided to stop at the first road side place we saw. It was just a shack with an old lady cooking. We got off the bike and I could see it in her eyes - this look like "Oh God, how do i talk to these people?" She says tentatively in Thai "Do you speak Thai?" And my daughter answers in Thai: I can speak Thai. I can speak Laos. I can speak English. I can speak German." The lady says "OK, OK". She was a sweet lady. She didn't have what I wanted and hoped on her motorcycle and went to a place that did and brought it back for me. I gave her a 50 baht tip on top of the charge for the effort.

#26 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by amnicoll on 6/10/2014 at 05:05

Lovely

Even the minimal Thai I speak brings great rewards but I can just imagine the reaction of the old woman to a "farang" little girl speaking Thai (and other languages)

#27 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by MADMAC on 6/10/2014 at 09:50

Yeah, it can be funny.

#28 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


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