Thursday, November 17, 2011

The start of an Endless Love: Thai Food

Packaged, fresh coconut

Two four letter words, seemingly so simple, but with so much hidden behind them. Two words that mean so much. Thai food could never be just a simple joint of two words. Thai culture is a busy culture. People everywhere, cars and motorbikes speeding faster then you could ever imagine and a certain smell of something great around the corner is always lingering. There is always something to look at and never a chance to catch a break between running across insanely busy streets and wondering “is that Thai person staring at me because I have something on my face or is it just because I seem to be pretty damn white”.  And then there is the atmosphere and the land around you. Thailand is beautiful. It is lush, bright, and most of all hot. The landscape of Thailand, when out of the main cities, is something pictures can do no justice. You feel like you’re in a magical wonderland when exploring through the jungles and walking on the opaque beautiful white beaches. Thailand, not so simply put, is straight out of a book that you read when you were young, only imagining  a place so enchanting could exist.
Tasty Thai garlic

Once you get over the beauty that the landscape of Thailand brings you, you then have the basis of any culture and the true description of what it really means to be Thai, their food. Thai’s live by the food they eat; they do not just eat to live. It is a form of community, family and education to everyone. Every night Thai’s go to the market to “pick up’ their dinner, or to eat it at the stall they bought it from. Many Thai’s do cook on their own, but from my knowledge that seems to be a smaller population then the simplicity of being able to pick up your food, preferably on your motorbike, and drive it home.  Thai’s have very small living spaces in general. Mine is a one room, one bathroom “apartment”. No cooking appliances, no pots and definitely no way to cook up some delicious food for myself. So what should one do without a kitchen? Go to the market, a food stall, or a small restaurant, all day everyday.

Thai mint, so fresh
When thrown into a culture unlike anything that you have known all you life, it is hard to just be courageous and walk up to someone cooking food and say I want that. Especially when they do not understand a single word you are saying.  It comes down to one thin: not being too afraid to say the wrong thing. You have to be firm in knowing what you want. Point to the thing that you think looks good and hope that it’s not going to make you seriously sick. You can’t be afraid that you might eat some intestine, brain, ear, heart, liver, jelly fish, squid, bugs, the list could go on and on.  No matter what you order, someone, somewhere else has eaten it and most likely is still alive and definitely enjoyed it. Trust in the person making your food. They are there because they make great food, want to feed it to you, and to make money. But aren’t we all? Confidence is key when eating in Thailand. Yes, you will come across things you have never seen and probably will never see again but go with it! In the end you will appreciate the food and the culture more.

Small Thai peppers

Now there is a long debate of where farang (white people) should go to eat. Yes, there are upscale Thai restaurants that you can eat at but that’s not the to food I came to Thailand for not the food that’s going to show their culture the best. I came her to try new things, taste new flavors and have new stories. I say, stick with the places you see many locals eating at.  The market is your best bet when it comes to diversity. They have pretty much everything your “Thai” mind could imagine. Anything from rice topped with pork and a sweet whiskey sauce to noodle soup with dumplings and fried pork fat. You can also eat at a small restaurant, which usually tends to be home of the person who is cooking for you, on their bottom floor. The storefront opens up to the street and usually has a garage door to close up at night. These places either have anything and everything you could imagine or they stick to one thing like rice or noodles. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can find a Chinese restaurant. They tend to be a little more expensive but definitely worth it. The fusion of flavors are unreal. Your last option to look for food is the random, dispersed but plentiful, food stalls on the side of the street. You can tell what they are making just by looking: buns, rice bowls, noodle bowls, dim sum, roti, and anything you can dream of on a skewer (more on that to come).  These are always good and always very quick, sometimes eating at a sit down place can seem like it takes days to get your food. These little food stalls have anything you want and can go anywhere you want. They tend to be on wheels, and are easily movable. All you need is your finger and the courage to point to whatever looks good. Most of these places have the prices somewhere on the stall. This helps you stay away from being overcharged, which does happen.

Dried Chilies
Anywhere you go you can expect to spend from 20 baht for something so simple as rice with some veggies to 200 baht for something very extravagant like a whole cooked fish skewered on a metal rod and spun around over coals. Remember 34 baht is 1 American dollar. Thai food is cheap and that’s why Thai’s go out to eat, but not to forget that its also of great quality and superior taste. Thai’s live to eat and their beautiful food proves that. Thailand is a place to come, eat and be happy and that is what I hope this blog shows. It’s not a display of the many things to go do or the many places to see but the many things to eat and the many places to eat it at. I want to show that there are foods normal to American standards but more so that the foods so far from what we know and that those foods should be the ones desired. Thai’s know good food and this will be my interpretation of it. 
Fresh caught snapper

1 comment:

  1. Incredable food, to see it presented like that. Food is like art. Best wishes Greetings from Australia.