Best Handheld Food From Around the World

Best Handheld Food.
Jeffrey Beall/Flickr

We eat with our hands all the time, fried chicken, ribs, burritos or Ethiopian food, but that doesn't mean those foods are handheld, meaning foods that you can eat by hand, on the go (on the contrary, they are messy and require lots of napkins.) Handheld food is portable and especially practical when you're having lunch on the go and juggling texting and walking at the same time.

Here's our top 10 handheld food from around the world.

Handheld Food, empanadas.
SoyCulto/Flickr
Empanadas

Originally from Portugal and Spain, these South American favorites consist of stuffing encased in soft dough that varies from country to country. For example in Argentina empanadas are baked and usually stuffed with meat, boiled egg and olives, while in Colombia they are stuffed with ground beef and are deep fried. In Puerto Rico, they've got the ultimate handheld fast food: pizza empanadas (tomato sauce and melted cheese inside a dough pocket that is deep fried, of course).

And don't forget that National Empanada Day is on April 8th, check out our tour of an empanada truck in NYC we did this year.

Our Favorite Handheld Foods
Stu_spivack/Fusion
Tacos

Tacos are one of America's favorite Mexican imports and cultural appropriations -- many self-respecting American city streets and outdoor fairs have their own taco stand or truck. Among summer's favorite are fish or nopales (cactus) tacos washed down with a cold michelada (beer, lime juice and spices).

Check out this video on Mexico City's best street tacos.

Our Favorite Handheld Foods
William Neuheisel/Flickr
Arepas

Arepas are flat corn cakes from Venezuela and Colombia. They're also the main point of contention between these two neighboring nations, both claiming arepas as their own invention. Venezuelans split them open and stuff them with chicken and avocado for example, while Colombians have it simply with butter, cheese and a sprinkle of salt.

Our Favorite Handheld Foods
Singapore Sunny Side Up/Flickr
Samosas

Samosas are the Indian version of the empanada: they are fried or baked and stuffed with a mix of spiced potatoes, onions, peas, lentils, ground lamb, beef or chicken.

Our Favorite Handheld Foods
Ginnerobot/Flickr
Gyros

A gyro is like a Greek burrito: pita bread stuffed with lamb roasted on a vertical spit. Don't forget tzatziki sauce made with yogurt, a tangy balance to the salty meat. In Turkey, they have a similar version called doner kebab.

Best Handheld Food.
Rob_rob2001/Flickr
Hot Dogs

Need we say more? America's favorite handheld food, hot dogs are the country's social equalizer. From the simple New York City street hot dog with ketchup and mustard, to the elaborate Chicago style with tomatoes, pickles, relish, sport peppers and celery salt, hot dogs are the country's go-to food.

Our Favorite Handheld Foods
Josiah Lau Photography/Flickr
Kati Rolls

Kati rolls originated in Kolkata, India's street food and are the equivalent of a skinny burrito. They consist of a spicy mixture of meat or vegetables rolled in an Indian flatbread. They are popular in New York City and are on the verge of global stardom.

Our Favorite Handheld Foods
Stu_spivack/Fusion
Jamaican Beef Patty

The name says it all, a Jamaican beef patty is a baked pastry stuffed with savory meat filling. It's outside shell is yellow because it's made of an egg yolk mixture or turmeric. Jamaican beef patties can be found in many Caribbean neighborhoods across America.

Handheld food, knish.
AltNav/Flickr
Knish

They are warm, doughy and full of carbs, this Eastern European snack consists of mashed potato, ground meat, sauerkraut, onions, kasha, or cheese wrapped in dough, although it varies from place to place. They were brought to America by Jewish immigrants.

Sandwich
Christian Cable/Flickr
Sandwich

And last but not least, the allmighty, all-purpose, sandwich. With peanut butter and jelly (US), stuffed with calamari or potato tortilla (Spain), the sandwich accepts any and all components.

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