Lonely Planet’s ‘Street Food’ book reviewed

A Christmas present from my mother in-law bucks the old clichés of bad choices.

Lonely Planet’s ‘The World’s Best Street Food: where to find it & how to make it’ is something that you’d think would be right up my alley, my cup of tea, flavour of the month, to my taste, blah-blah, and you’d be right. Travel, tick! Food, tick! Lots of full-colour food porn, tick! Clearly my mother in-law knows me quite well. Though actually that isn’t a piece of Holmesian deduction as I’m always creating weird and wonderful ways to use our grocery budget to its fullest, most nutritious extent (why the hell do I insist on spelling nutritious ‘nutricious’? – Gah!).

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse (because it would be killed by our cats).

The stockings were hung by the chimney window with care,

In hopes that St Nicholas Christopher Booth soon would be there.

And Lo! So it came to pass!

Grey Christmas morn, he descended the stairs, anxious to uncover the day’s souvenirs.

He tore open his gifts one and all, allowing Sellotape and wrapping paper to fall.

There in his hands lay a tome, a manual for the food you find when you roam.


So yeah, I got Lonely Planet’s Street Food book for Christmas. It’s a sleek and glossy little number, 224 pages of sweet and savoury snacks sourced from all over the world. Split into 80 savoury recipes and 20 sweet recipes it covers maybe a dozen countries more than once, with Thailand represented 5 times. But that’s certainly fair as it kind of creates a league of the best places to eat street food.

The recipes themselves are split into three categories and marked clearly:

Easy – A very basic recipe, eg, putting together a sandwich or tossing salad ingredients.

Medium – Suitable for the average home cook.

Complex – Several parts to make, or lots of ingredients to prepare, or a specific technique involved that may take some practice.

– Lonely Planet, 2012, p.11…

And now that I look up who wrote this book I discover it’s [at the very least] introduced by Tom Parker Bowles, the son in-law of Prince Charles, the heir to the throne!

Anyway the grading system sets things out pretty clearly. Each recipe gets two full pages with an photograph of what it should look like, a full list of ingredients, a little bit about its history and context, and an indication of where to find it in the country in question.

One of the most important parts of the book is the glossary. Sometimes an ingredient might not be available in your local shops so whenever you see an ingredient coloured in blue you can refer to the glossary. If there is a suitable alternative then it will be listed. For example, if you were making ‘Red Red’ and had never heard of ‘zomi’ then you’ll soon discover that it’s just another word for palm oil. Whilst making Sri Lankan ‘Hopper’ without Maldive fish flakes simply means using Japanese bonito flakes instead.

Argentine Choripán, as instructed by Lonely Planet's Street Food

So far I’ve only had a chance to make two of the simpler snacks, Argentine Choripán and Maltese Pastizzi, but both more than lived up to their ‘Easy’ rating and tasted superb.

With another 98 recipes still to try I’m going to get a lot of life out of this book. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who loves to travel then I’d definitely recommend Lonely Planet’s Street Food, and if you click the links on this page then I’ll get a little cut of the price you pay as well!

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