Let’s Not Talk About Anything Else But Food

Perhaps this blog title is funny only to me; it’s a play on a Broadway song. Whatever! Also – pics to come.

It’s probably high time we took a solid step back to discuss the incredible and diverse cuisine of Thailand. You’ve all (e.g. no one has) been reading of the various adventures tooling around the country, but I have yet to really divulge the unique experience that the culinary tour has been.

It began the night we arrived; midnight pad Thai from a stand near the hotel in Bangkok. The best we have ever eaten; capped off with a questionable shrimp that we will let slide. In plastic chairs, surrounded by stray dogs, served by a woman who spoke no English and made the dish from a wok and a flame steps away from us, it was heavenly. And only $3 for two dishes, including a Coke and a beer.

Welcome to Thailand.

The tour continued near a pier the next morning; handmade roti filled with egg and banana – again, cooked to order, from a street vendor. The hygiene around here is debatable at best – limited hand washing, rinsed dishes, meat sitting out – but the freshness and love in the food is second to none.

For lunch, we dined in Chinatown: fresh bubble tea for $1, bird’s nest soup (kind of a horrible thing, I was later aware, but nonetheless tasty), squid with chili sauce, and crab vermicelli. The seafood here, when prepared fresh, is out of this world. Total price for the meals: $7.

In the evening, we went to a spot recommended by a cab driver and were horrified to discover… Other white people. We had been sent where tourists go to die. Although the curry was decent and the beer was cold, it wasn’t the best we’d eaten, and we hated feeling like Class B tourists. So we went local for a drink.

An outdoor night spot made us wish we had ordered whatever all the locals were grilling up themselves at the tables. Thai Hedwig crooned us over Chang beers.

We had only begun to discover the rich flavors of Indian, Middle eastern, Chinese, and Russian influences that clearly pepper Thailand. Crab curries galore, fresh seafood, luscious fruits and vegetables, indulgent noodle dishes, Vietnamese style soups, custard pastries, and dim sum-style buns.

Throughout the road trip from Bangkok to Phuket, we dined on shredded pork with onions and cilantro (Brandon ate mine) prepared fresh outside a gas station, pork and custard buns, grilled sausage, grilled bananas, and milk tea. Nothing was more than $2, and everything was cooked to order.

The food in Phuket is nothing to sniff at, either: two glorious crab curries, one red (at the Renaissance) and one yellow (at Raya, a local recommended place) made a very happy girl. Coupled with the stunning shrimp, watermelon, and feta salad I had at the hotel, it was clear that freshness isn’t just a delicacy here – it’s a way of life for Thais.

Having only had americanized Thai food previously, it was easy to make the assumption that it could be fairly one note – and generally quite spicy. Although we have had our fair share of spice here, I am awed by the diversity in the flavors and the true harmony of cultures represented in the cuisine. I could eat this food forever. Time to move?

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