International Street Food Festival: Great Local Finds


There is nothing better than falling in love with a great local dish – one you’ve never heard of, has a terrible name (stink bean curry anyone?) and isn’t the most handsome food you’ve ever seen.

But you give it a go and – bam – it’s love at first bite. In the throes of passion you decide to stay forever just to eat this every day, maybe even three times a day, maybe four if no one is looking.

But then reality hits — how can you stay loyal to this dish when there are so many more fabulous street foods to discover?

Welcome to the first day of the world’s first online International Street Food Festival here on The Dropout Diaries!

Traveling foodies Nora Dunn (The Professional Hobo), Julia and Barry (Turkey’s For Life), Sally (Unbrave Girl) and Mark Wiens (Eating Thai Food) kick off the festival by introducing you to some of great local street foods that have stirred their passions.

Because I’m a pushy type, I also asked these four great bloggers to share some inspiration as well as their favourite street food sensations.

Read on and enjoy. (Just put a napkin on your keyboard first. I don’t want to be held responsible for any drool-related short-circuits.)

The Dropout Diaries' International Street Food Festival

Street Food Sensation: Oil Down From Grenada

The Caribbean island of Grenada has a very active street food culture. Drive along the winding roads, and you’ll find charcoal barbecues spewing smoke while cooking up pork, chicken, and fish coated in homemade barbecue sauces.

If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot somebody with a huge pot over a fire, stewing up some Oil Down.

Oil Down, Grenada's national dish

“Oil Down” refers not to auto mechanics or the application of sunscreen; it’s Grenada’s national dish! It’s a one-pot wonder that includes chicken, pork (snout and all), crab, green plantain, breadfruit, callalloo (taro leaves, similar to spinach), dense flour dumplings, tumeric, and lots of coconut milk. It’s all layered in the pot and stewed until it has cooked down and there is a thick layer of coconut oil left on the bottom of the pot.

While it may not be the most attractive looking dish, rest assured that it tastes incredibly yummy, and is so rich that you won’t likely finish what’s on your plate. This pictured serving made two (very) full meals for me!

Nominated By: Nora Dunn, also known as The Professional Hobo

… who sold everything she owned (including a busy financial planning practice) in 2006 to travel the world full-time. Since then she has traveled through or lived in over 30 countries on five continents – and counting. She specializes in full-time travel in a financially sustainable way.  

Get Inspired!

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

-B. Franklin (via Nora Dunn)

The Dropout Diaries' International Street Food Festival

Street Food Sensation: Gözleme from Turkey

Gözleme (or saç böreği as it’s also known) is a delightfully tempting Turkish street food and visitors to Turkey will notice it being sold throughout the country.

Gözleme is a filling and cheap dish meaning hungry travellers can have their fill without putting too much of a dent in their budget.

Gozleme from Turkey

Why did we choose gözleme over the myriad of other Turkish street food choices? Because the simple ideas are the best.

Everybody we meet who samples gözleme goes on to rave about it to others. It’s that good!

A basic phyllo dough is rolled out into a thin circle. A filling is sprinkled on one half of the dough before the other half is flipped deftly over the top.

Oil is spread over the saç (the heated black plate in the photo) and the pastry is heated on both sides, causing ‘eyes’ to appear.

The most traditional filling is white cheese and spinach but these days other choices are available. We recommend the minced meat and grated potato filling.

Nominated By: Julia and Barry…

… who arrived in Turkey nine years ago with the intention of travelling the country for 6 months. They’re still there, enjoying the adventure and have no intention of moving on any time soon. Julia and Barry blog at www.turkeysforlife.com.

Get Inspired!

“Don’t keep saying, `I’d do it tomorrow but…’ Just do it. There’s no good time and there will always be reasons not to do it. Just go for it.” – Julia and Barry’s advice for people who have a dream but are a bit scared to jump into it.

The Dropout Diaries' International Street Food Festival

Street Food Sensation: Rou Jia Mo (Chinese Pork Sandwich)

Living in China, I’m constantly faced with little surprises that baffle and delight me. Probably one of my favorite surprises that I’ve encountered since moving here over a year ago are the sandwiches.

China can make one mean sandwich.

Seriously, people, why didn’t I know about the sandwiches? I mean, I’d heard all about the dumplings and the noodles and the hot pot and the duck before I got here. But I had no idea that there was such a wide range of wondrous sandwich options available in the Middle Kingdom.

Rou Jia Mo from China

Probably my favorite sandwich is rou jia mo. Translated literally, rou jia mo means “meat wedged in bun.” The usual meat of choice is pork, but you can also find rou jia mo served with lamb or beef. And, if you’re lucky, some other fixings might be wedged in there as well.

My favorite stall serves up a bun stuffed full of stewed pork and thin noodles of tofu skin, all topped off with some pickled vegetables and a little meat juice. Because, really, every sandwich is going to taste better with some meat juice on top, am I right or am I right?

Nominated By: Sally …

… a writer, teacher, performer, photographer, traveler, eater of many things and an all-around scaredy cat. Her blog, Unbrave Girl, won the 2012 Bloggie Award for Best Asian Weblog.

Get Inspired!

“Some people feel happy and confident when they wake up in the morning every single day. And some people are going to feel doubt and worry when they wake up everyday. It’s good to acknowledge early which kind you are and make your peace with it.” Ira Glass (via Sally, Unbrave Girl)

The Dropout Diaries' International Street Food Festival

Street Food Sensation: Goong Pad Sataw (Stink Bean Curry) From Thailand

No dish makes my mouth water and my body shiver with excitement more than a steaming hot plate of Thai style goong pad sataw.

Goong pad sataw is a dish that glorifies the notoriously sulphuric smelling but ever-so-pleasant-tasting beans known as sataw (also known as stink beans, cluster beans and petai).

In Southeast Asia, these beans that come packed in pods produced by the Parkia Speciosa tree are practically worshipped for their gastronomic appeal.

Like asparagus, stink beans leave a pungent scent that exits your pours and taints your urine for many days after being eaten – in my opinion, a delicious reminder of the wonderful plate of goong pad sataw you enjoyed!

For goong pad sataw, the beans and shrimp are stir-fried in a rich yellow southern Thai puréed curry paste of fresh turmeric root, roasted dry chillies, garlic, red onions and black pepper corns.

Goong pad sataw doesn’t give you that intensely sharp heat of freshly cut Thai chillies, but if the curry paste is made to southern Thai specifications, it should be a spiciness that slowly builds and brews with every bite until your stomach is alive and the robust flavors of the curry simmer within your body.

For spicy food lovers, every spoonful of goong pad sataw is a heavenly bite of blessed culinary enlightenment.

Nominated by: Mark Wiens …

… a devout Thai food connoisseur with a passion to share and excite others about the authentic Thai dining experience through his photos and blog, www.eatingthaifood.com. He has dedicated much of his time to exploring the everlasting buffet of Bangkok’s street side cuisine. 

Get Inspired!

Motherly street food cooks really inspire me because no matter what country you are in, they treat every eater like their own child, taking special care to create their dishes with pride and that extraordinary motherly touch. Nothing is more inspiring than enjoying street food cooked by a local mama who is ecstatic to see you admire her cooking! – Mark Wiens

The Dropout Diaries' International Street Food Festival

Stay tuned for day two of the first-ever online International Street Food Festival tomorrow, here on The Dropout Diaries. Tuesday’s menu features a range of tantalising tempting “well-traveled” street foods from around the globe.

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2 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, had a baby, went back to work and then decided to drop out again. Blogging from Ho Chi Minh City at the moment.

15 Comments

  1. Mmmmm, the Thai dishes just always look sooo good, don’t they? We really must get there soon! Thanks for putting all this together Barbara. A great idea.
    Julia
    Turkey’s For Life recently posted..Fethiye In Bloom – A Photo Story

    • Barbara says:

      I think all the dishes sound fantastic! Such an amazing array of yumminess. Thank you for participating. I’d never heard of gözleme before.

  2. Laurel says:

    Everything looks delicious. I shouldn’t be reading this right before lunch.
    Laurel recently posted..Munich Skyline Photo

  3. I could go for an Oil Down right now…. not at all too heavy for breakfast :-)
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Buenos Aires Take 4… And Big News!

    • Barbara says:

      Really? I reckon I’d need a nap after eating a plate of Oil Down. Morning naps are quite fun, so maybe you’re on to something there, Stephanie.

  4. Oh, YUM. i can tell this will be a food cue week…
    wandering educators recently posted..Switzerland by rail and the Jungfrau experience

  5. Stephanie says:

    Gözleme sounds like it would probably be my favorite of these… The Oil Down looks interesting… When will technology invent the virtual tasting option??!
    Stephanie recently posted..Steph’s Steps to Making Banh Beo

  6. Jarrad says:

    Love reading the different foods, this definitely should have come with a warning not to read on an empty stomach!
    Jarrad recently posted..Perlubie Beach

  7. Ayngelina says:

    I love Latin America but I do get food envy when I see Asian street food, so colourful and so many vegetables!
    Ayngelina recently posted..Food Friday: Black Pepper Biscotti

    • Barbara says:

      Lucky for you, Asian food is easy to cook at home. I don’t know how easy it is to find stink beans in Canada though. Maybe you could use asparagus.

  8. robin says:

    Chinese pork sandwich…mmm…
    robin recently posted..Gran Día

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