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Seven must-try street dishes – from Asia to Africa and beyond

This is part of a series exploring the cultural, technological and social trends that are informing the way we dine and select what we eat. Read the rest in the series here.

As Canada begins to develop its own style of street food we would do well to look at other nations which have already perfected the art of al fresco cooking.

From Asia to Africa and beyond here are a few of our favourite street foods from around the world.


1) Assam laksa

A specialty on the streets of Penang, Malaysia – arguably the world’s greatest street-food destination – this exceptionally complex fish broth-based noodle soup is bright with ginger and tart tamarind lifted higher by fresh herbs and chilies but tethered firmly to earth with pungent shrimp paste.


2) Panino bagnatto

The name translates as “wet bun” as the bread is often dipped in the braising liquid before serving. A specialty found almost nowhere outside of the market in Florence, Italy (and now at Bar Buca in Toronto) the dish features tripe braised in a simple tomato and soffrito broth on a bun dressed with salsa verde and pepperoncini paste.


3) Orh luak

Singapore’s legendary Hawker Centres are like the ultimate foodie theme park. Dozens of vendors, each with their own specialty, churn out some of the best food on the planet with each one trying to outdo the other. Nowhere is that competition more fierce than with orh luak, an impossibly crisp omelette bursting with oysters and enlivened with chili sauce. Try dozens before settling on a favourite.


4) Drei im weggla

A single hot dog all alone in a bun will never again suffice after you’ve had drei im weggla. A specialty of Nuremberg, Germany, the name literally means “three in a bun” because it consists of three grilled bratwurst sausages in a dense chewy bun. Heaps of mustard mandatory, sauerkraut optional.


5) Snail soup

The chaotic and beautiful Jamaa el-Fna, Marrakech, Morocco’s main square, is easily the best place in the world for snail soup. In truth, the snails themselves are a bit flavourless and the broth is borderline nasty, but the experience makes the dish.

6) Jellied eel

With the closing last year of Tubby Isaac’s in London, one of Britain’s most venerable food stalls, jellied eel has become tough to find in the city, but don’t despair, they can still be found at the Borough Market. Don’t be put off by the idea, the dish is gentle and lightly herbaceous, but should be awakened with a dash of vinegar.

7) Pani puri

For the sheer pleasure of eating it’s hard to beat pani puri. Popular on the streets throughout the Indian subcontinent, these delightful little wheat and semolina puffs are usually filled with tiny amounts of chutney, chili, spices, onion, potato and chickpeas and are eaten in one bite.
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