15th MAY 2019, BY MY PASSPORT TO SHANGRILA
If there is one thing I like to talk about the most while travelling, it’s the food. Local food is undeniably the best kind of food you will get abroad and there is good reason for it. Local food is part of the pulse of a country, and trying it is unarguably an important part of any adventure.
However, we’ve all heard (and some experienced) travel horror stories of food poisoning that all started with one innocent meal. Now, obviously there’s no guaranteed formula for avoiding getting sick while overseas, but I have a simple checklist to minimise the risks of spending your night puking into a toilet.
FOLLOW THE CROWD
Locals know where the good food is. Be ballsy! Head towards where all the locals are eating rather than choosing somewhere quieter because you feel less intimidated. The locals know what’s good and they definitely know what’s bad, so follow the crowd to not only get food that’s far safer, but food that’s likely far tastier.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS (so long as they are good)
EYES – Are there flies buzzing around raw meat? Are unidentified sauces being poured into your food from a re-purposed bottle? Are stray dogs licking the ingredients that’s about to go in your Pad-Thai? These are obvious red flags! Don’t ignore them. Trust your eyes. If something seems fishy, it’s better to move onto the next food stand.
SMELL – Follow your Schnoz! Anyone that has been to a night market knows that these places are an intoxicating aroma blend of food, sweat and spices. Use your sense of smell to discern these smells from foul odours coming off the food you’re about to eat. Bad food smells bad. It always has and it always will. If you’re ambivalent of the scent coming off your food, it’s best to move on.
GUT – This one is a bit of a balancing act between being adventurous and being street smart. It goes without saying that trying local food is a daring experience. Much of it will smell funny to begin with, and much of it will be entirely foreign to you. Like I’ve mentioned once – be ballsy! You don’t want to miss out on a fantastic meal because the food is unfamiliar.
TAKE A PRESCRIPTION
Regardless of how strictly you follow your food safety rules, chances are your stomach will feel topsy turvy at one point during your trip. It could be from food poisoning, it could be from motion sickness, or it could just be simple travellers sickness. Ensure to bring over the counter drugs like Pepto Bismol and Imodium, so that you’re not caught off guard when things take a nauseous turn. And don’t worry, most local pharmacies in your country will have some variation of these drugs, so if you forgot yours at home, you’re not out of luck.