Another Friday, another weekend approaching – yay! Since I’ve been back home since the big USAdventure, I’ve been spending most of my weekends catching up with friends, which has really driven home the fact that Melbourne is a really expensive city to live and eat in! It’s funny; a lot of the time after a particularly pricey meal or cocktail, I can’t help thinking to myself “if only we’d done this catch up in Vietnam or Thailand, we’d have been able to do the street food thing and gotten twice the food for half the price!”
I’ve written about the merits and wonders of street food, particularly in Asia, in posts like this one, this one, this one, and this one. When you live in a city live Melbourne which is very heavy on amazing eateries, but very light on street food, due to very strict council regulations, you need to be eating street food when you travel! Why?
a) it’s the cheapest way to eat and is going to save you a ton of money.
b) it’s generally the most authentic way of getting food representative of the place you’re visiting – you won’t find a heap of Westernised food catering for tourists.
c) following on from that, you’re also going to have the opportunity to eat with the locals of the place you’re visiting, which means the chance to eat like they eat, have a chat and maybe make a new friend!
d) if you’re wary and sensible, you are NOT going to get sick from eating it, contrary to popular belief. Trust me on this one – I have a pretty shitty stomach and immune system, and (TOUCH WOOD!!!) have never gotten sick eating street food in Asia. In fact, the only time I’ve been seriously sick from food related issues while travelling was in Vanuatu, after eating a restaurant hamburger (48 hours of violent food poisoning ensued, God help me I thought I’d die on that bloody island)!
One of the best meals I think I’ve had was on a very warm, very sunny day in Phuket on Patong Beach – I’d managed to locate the infamous little pink pad thai cart, and sat down with a plate of their best work, and a coconut mojito from a little old lady a few shacks down, who was getting her sons to do all the leg work, taking orders and running out orders, while she sat contentedly in the shade of her “cocktail bar” on the cool sand, throwing together cocktails like an old pro. The whole lot wouldn’t have cost more than AUD$5.00, and couldn’t have tasted better if I’d ordered the same thing in one of the fancy beach side restaurants a few meters away, packed full of tourists. If I’d ordered this meal at a Thai restaurant at home, I’d have paid around AUD$35.00 for the same thing.
So there I sat, blissfully happy, in the warm midday sun, toes digging into the cool sand in the small spot of shade I sat in while I ate my plate of fresh pad thai, sipping on a coconut mojito made with the juices of a freshly cracked coconut. You really should do the street food thing in Phuket, they really know how to put together a fantastic feed!