Thai fish cakes for instance, I only ever found on the street in Bangkok, sold in packets of 5 or 10, freshly fried and piquant. Here in the UK, Thai fish cakes are a starter, 3 for around five quid, and mostly from frozen ready-made catering packs.
In Mexico the street food is a revelation and I'm quite prepared to risk hep C or whatever disease, although the amount of chili and lime involved may kill off any lurgies.
Behind my hotel in Mexico City I bought little dishes of roasted yellow sweet corn, with red pieces of chili, coriander and a squeeze of lime from one woman, who rinsed our dishes in a bucket of grey soapy water next to her tiny wheelie stall.
In Oaxaca, expert Indigenous hands roll and stretch Mexican-style pancakes, a kind of tostada, on wok-like charcoal burners, ten's of stalls lined up selling the same dishes. It's hard to choose which one. I randomly pick my stall based on 2 criteria: the expressions of culinary rapture on customer's faces; which woman's apron I prefer. Apron wearing is an art form in Mexico and Guatemala and I bought a couple. Indian women wear them as skirt decoration even when they are not cooking.
I had the vegetarian version of these 'tlayudas' with Oaxacan stretchy cheese, home-made salsa and mole. You can choose from several different kinds of mole, brown, black, red, yellow. Mole is a kind of spice blend and sauce sometimes with chocolate, but used in a savoury way with chicken.
Indian street food is excellent. But every time you go to a stall a middle-class Indian gentleman will come up and warn you, in a whisper, not to eat it. I didn't care. And I didn't get sick.
I loved the fresh mango and papaya covered with brown salt and lime. (In Mexico they do the same but with lime and chili). Creamy sour lassi's whipped up with a wooden stick and served ice-cold in a stainless steel tall cup...manna! Scoops of spicy chickpeas in bowls made of leaves...breakfast was often spent crouching in a queue waiting for freshly patted-out potato paratha, made kneeling near the ground.
I went to India some time ago and sweet chai was still served in clay cups. The railway tracks were littered with shards for there was no shame in chucking them away, being biodegradable.
Recently at an Indian restaurant in Euston I had little fritters with sweet yoghurt tucked inside and a tamarind and coriander sauce. I do think street food should be brought indoors with one exception...
Chip shops in the UK: I know our mothers told us never to eat on the street but a portion of chips, eaten out of paper on a rainy British street is always better than eating the same indoors. Is it the temperature contrast of your fingers briefly dipping into soft warm salt and vinegared potatoes that makes the whole experience so good?
One of my French exes, when he came to live in London, became obsessed with the different chip shops in Camden and Kentish Town. He tried them all.
One Chinese chip shop guy uttered the immortal phrase "Open or closed?".
My ex:"Excuse me?"
Chinese guy repeats: "Open or closed?"
My ex looks around at the door with it's sign:"but you are open no? I think this place is open..."
Chinese guy, patiently, penny dropping: "Do you want the paper on your chips to be open or closed?"