Posted by Thomas Crampton
A friend is heading to Southeast Asia and asked advice on food.
I find that travellers are often obsessive about the wrong things. They are very aggressive about - for example - making sure that the water has actually boiled in their soup, but then order a salad as a starter.
Basically, I never eat anything that has been washed in tapwater (like lettuce) and avoid anything that has milk products (pies with cream or other milk products that can go bad in tropical heat) but you can eat almost anything that has been peeled (fruit) grilled (meat) boiled (soup, noodles, curries, etc). Always wash hands before eating and get in the habit of carrying purell in your pocket. Be wary of cutlery in the sense that you should rub it down with a napkin before using it.
One of the greatest pleasures for me in travel is sampling the local cuisine in street stalls and small restaurants, so I probably push the envelope, but rarely get ill. (Perhaps I have built up resistance)
Medicines I use for rare occasions when digestive issues arise? Peptobismol and - if needed - immodium. Some people take peptobismol before eating, but that such a waste because it ruins the taste.
Also, there is no need to buy water purification tablets. Never in more than a decade of travel through developing countries have I been out of reach of clean water. That said, make sure to keep yourself hydrated in tropical heat. Drink small amounts constantly rather than gulping once every few hours.
Most important: Don't obsess on it! Enjoy your holiday.