Humanity’s relationship with food is a complex and deep-rooted one. Our taste and preference have evolved together with our society, with some becoming a source of great regional or national pride. The advent of planes and ships has allowed the intermingling of the different street foods from every corner of the world. Sushi can be consumed in India; empanadas are popular in the Philippines; Hot dogs are found in virtually every country on earth. It’s almost impossible to enjoy all the traditional snacks the world has to offer but we sure can try. Here are the top 8 street foods everyone should try.
1. Takoyaki – Japan
Takoyaki is a staple street food in Japan. Golf Ball-sized balls made of wheat flour-based batter filled with minced octopus, pickled ginger, green onion, and tempura scraps, this world-famous delicacy is cooked in a special pan to shape it into a ball. The balls are then drizzled with okonomi sauce or mayonnaise. The red light district of Juso in central Osaka is believed by many to be the best place to get these yummy bite-sized balls.
2. Crepes – France
The French do know how to elevate everyday food items into scrumptious dishes. Crepes are no exception. These thin pancakes made from wheat first became popular in Brittany, a region in northwest France. The batter is spread into a big, round cast-iron griddle and spread in a circular motion using a wooden utensil called a rozell. Crepes are dusted with sugar or topped with sliced fruits or sometimes with different meats and cheeses. It’s folded into a cone and sold across the country as an on-the-go snack for both young and old.
3. Empanadas – Latin America
A short hop across the Atlantic Ocean and we’re treated to a popular Latin American snack – empanadas. A type of fried turnover, empanadas can be stuffed with an assortment of food items available in the household. Meat and cheese are common stuffing. The turnover can either be baked or fried. Empanadas are believed to originate in Galicia but have since spread all over the world with different regions adding their own twist to the recipe.
4. Arepas – Colombia/Venezuela
Soft, thick, and delicious, arepas are a staple in Venezuelan and Colombian diets. It’s made from ground maize kernels or maize meal, mixed with water and salt, with butter, eggs, and milk. Arepas can be boiled, grilled, boiled, or baked. It also varies in size, color, and flavor. Arepas are stuffed with an assortment of ingredients like meat, eggs, cheese, salad, or tomatoes. It can be split in half and serve as the bread of a sandwich, served with avocado, cheese or cuajada.
5. Banh Mi – Vietnam
The introduction of baguette to French-occupied Vietnam paved the way for the creation of banh mi. This sandwich is made using Vietnamese baguette with fillings of either pork belly, grilled chicken, sausage, or pork liver pate. Vegetables are commonly added like cilantro, cucumber, pickled carrots as well as other condiments like chili sauce, mayonnaise, and seasoning sauce. Today, banh mi has made the transition from being a local delicacy to an international snack enjoyed by millions.
6. Gyro – Greece
A gyro is a type of meat preparation where traditional meat like lamb, pork, or chicken is cooked in a vertical rotisserie and sliced off and served in a wrap filled with onions, tomatoes, and tzatziki sauce. Fries are also commonly served together with the gyro. The gyro meat is usually spiced with garlic powder, paprika, pepper, oregano, and parsley. Sometimes cumin, cinnamon, and nutmeg are added for an even richer taste.
7. Hot dog – United States
No street food list is complete without the ever-reliable hot dogs. An American classic snack, they’re a staple in every aspect of American life. Hot dogs are served in steak restaurant and convenience stores but they are commonly consumed during sporting events because they’re easy to prepare and easier to eat. Paired with an ice-cold soda while enjoying the roar of the crowd in a stadium, the hot dog is an emblematic American snack that’s transcended its roots and has successfully conquered the world.
If you want to enjoy these street foods, there’s no need to jump on a plane, these dishes have become so popular that they can be found in every major city around the world.