Eli Orzessek is Travel's Digital Content Producer.

Ask Away: Street food safety

From mangoes to minor convictions, Eli Orzessek has the answers.
Samosas and pakoras, which are freshly deep fried in front of your eyes, are absolutely okay. Photo / iStock
Samosas and pakoras, which are freshly deep fried in front of your eyes, are absolutely okay. Photo / iStock

I'm travelling to India later this year. I love Indian food, but am anxious to avoid gastro-dramas. I'm a meat-eater, but happy to go vegetarian for a spell if that's the safest thing. Any advice?

Sharon Cook

I asked Swamy Akuthota, an Indian food expert who founded Auckland's acclaimed Satya restaurants and has travelled extensively in India to research food.

He says the two problem areas are water-borne infections and viral infections.

To avoid the first, drink bottled water with tamper-proof lids from reputable stores.

Street food is generally safe if it's being cooked in front of you at high temperatures. "For example samosas and pakoras, which are freshly deep fried in front of your eyes, are absolutely okay," he says.

Cold mango lassis, which are freshly churned from full yoghurt trays are usually safe - go for disposable cups rather than glass, as the later may have been washed in stagnant water.

Fruit juice vendors squeeze from fresh fruit - and according to Akuthota, Indian fruits can have an intense flavour. Try a few until you find one that suits your palate.

Viral infections can be avoided by using a face mask in very crowded areas and using hand sanitiser before eating. "Try to eat at crowded popular outlets as the food standards are generally good and there is no stagnation of food," he says.

And yes, avoiding meat is a good idea.

Can I travel to Canada for a three-week holiday if I have a minor drink-driving conviction from quite a few years ago? How hard is it to get a pardon?

Asking for a friend

Though Canada is very strict on this, it's not impossible. An applicant would first need to have an "admissibility assessment" through Canadian immigration.

Depending on the outcome, you'd either get access to standard routes (electronic Travel Authority, visitor visa) or would have to go through a different process and apply for a criminal rehabilitation and/or a temporary resident permit.

Normally, you would have to pay a fee of CAD$200 ($215) to process an application for a temporary resident permit. However, a policy introduced in 2012 means you may be able to skip this fee for one visit if you have served no jail time and have committed no other acts that would prevent you from entering Canada.

If you were convicted of a crime when you were under the age of 18, you may still be able to enter Canada. Photo / iStock
If you were convicted of a crime when you were under the age of 18, you may still be able to enter Canada. Photo / iStock

You will need to prove that your reason to travel to Canada is justified and you do not pose a risk because of your conviction. Trips for leisure are not normally considered justified. If you were convicted of a crime when you were under the age of 18, you may still be able to enter Canada.

It would be wise to discuss your plans with a travel agent, as they have the knowledge to help with a situation like this and can look at your specific circumstances in more detail. Short answer: It's worth a try, but you'd want to apply well in advance and definitely before you book.

Read more:
Ask Away: Planning a safari trip
Ask Away: Can I drink and fly?

Tweet us @NZHTravel or use the hashtag #NZHAskAway

Email your questions to askaway@nzherald.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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