Take a Walk on the Wild Side
As if I have the world’s most indestructible digestive system, I’ve always been attracted to street food. After living in South America for a few months, I’ve learned that street food is an art that was perfected here…
The South American street cart is the food truck in its most elemental form – cart, grill, food. No fuss, no muss.
Grilled treats roast over open flames on every corner and the mouth-watering smells lead me down the street by the nose like Pepé Le Pew.
There’s nothing better than meat for fifty cents. If I’m lucky, it comes with a selection of several unidentifiable sauces, and I choose them all. White and creamy or red and spicy – the one thing they have in common is the complete and utter absence of refrigeration.
But who can say no to something that smells so good? I’ve eaten guinea pig, llama, alpaca pizza, cow tongue, even potatoes dipped in mud. Saying yes is the easy part.
The real challenge is in the bartering. My Spanish is passable at best, and I still count on my fingers – so when I try to convert thousands of pesos to one dollar, I get plain old tongue-tied. There have definitely been times I’ve resorted to scratching numbers in the dirt at my feet with a stick, forced to abandon my tough, take-no-prisoners negotiation skills.
I’m not going to tell you that I’ve always chosen wisely, but when you want to travel the world and do it on a budget, a sense of adventure is a must. Sure, you can play it safe and stick to the restaurants in your Lonely Planet guidebook, but let’s be honest – where’s the fun in that?
When I meet other travelers who are shocked by my willingness to dine like the locals, I can’t help but feel like they are missing out. Sure, I’ve regretted it a few times (ask my husband), but I’ve also regretted eating take-out Thai in the US. In life, there’s always risk involved, but I’ve found a walk on the wild side is almost always worth it. Whether it’s finding foods you never knew existed or pushing the boundaries of what you thought was edible, there’s a whole world out there just waiting for you to get out there and taste it.
Kayci is currently traveling the world, one street cart at a time. A girl who’s always hungry, nothing scares her away from what just might be the meal of a lifetime. You can follow her on twitter at @seedbarkroot!