Readers' Submissions

Food – Glorious Food



From a readers submission.

"After my first encounter with Thai food, I simply find Western and other bland cuisines tasteless and boring."

Food. Everyone needs it, everyone does it. You can do without sex or almost all things in life, with the exception of water of course, but food, well you really do need it and what a boring world it would be with its diversity.

Thailand's cuisine, for me at least, is fantastic. I have always liked Asian food and have acquired a particular liking for Thai food. Now Thai food is generally put into a number of different categories, generally by region. Issan food can mean crispy crickets, bird, dog {a visit to the dog abattoir is a must} fried rat etc or it can also mean beef, rice, som tum and what may described as mainstream, at least for the farang. Personally, I hate the so called jungle food, preferring instead beef and rice. The south, the far north {Chang Mai}, and central {Bangkok} all have their own particular "style". But suffice it to say, Thai food, in almost all its forms is fantastic, jungle food notwithstanding. Along with the above, there has been of late a trend towards some more upmarket establishments creating their own Thai style food, incorporating foreign food, and bring it to a Thai style. A classic example of this is Yum Char or Dim Sum Thai style. A certain eating establishment in the Emporium on Sukhumvit has just such a dish.

Hardly a day will go by for me in Bangkok when I will not visit Emporium where a good feed on the top floor can be had for around 50 baht, not $2.00 Aust with a drink! It is not only cheap, it is also clean and very tasty. A little more expensive at the up market restaurants next door of course, but then again, you get what you pay for. And on the street, a bowl of noodles and some meat or vegies, perhaps a little rice – 50 baht. Be careful however. I have caught dysentery and ended up in hospital after contracting food poisoning from one such a street vendor. I have also heard of many other cases of Thais who have become sick from time to time after eating food infected with salmonella or some other such bacteria. In fact, the Thai government often runs advertising campaigns warning of food poisoning and extolling the virtue of clean food preparation. This said, I remain hooked on Thai food and enjoy it.

For a time, I was turned off all western food. I found it bland, boring and just not appetising at all. However, over time I have come full circle, to re-appreciate that Sunday roast lamb with all the trimmings again. I will now often have a sandwich, with a little spicy filling perhaps and on occasion I will have Mexican, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese or some other national cuisine other than Thai. It is all available. You name it – it's available in Bangkok like so many things in Thailand. Now, call me prejudiced or even naive if you like, but I have noticed that the more cosmopolitan the Bangkokian, the more likely they will be to try all manner of cuisine. They will partake in as much variety as any foreigner. But isn't it frustrating to watch your little teruk from Issan turn her nose up at just about anything other than Issan food. We would be forgiven for thinking that these little creatures were brought up on Som Tum, crispy crickets or perhaps cockroaches. Has anyone ever told them that many of these creatures are harvested using DDT or other such chemicals that surly are not good for them? Perhaps not. Moreover, would they care anyway? Occasionally though, I have been surprised. Ever asked your teruk in the morning what they would like for breakfast and got "I like sa take {Steak} ?" I sat there wondering one morning just how many sa – takes this little wench had consumed prior to shaking her boody in Nana? Short answer – none! A girl friend of a friend of mine landed a job in an Indian restaurant in one of the Sois off Sukhumvit. I asked her if she liked Indian food and with a screwed up nose got "I no like. Bad smell." I asked her what type of food she likes and was told in no uncertain terms "Issan food". Oh well.

One thing I do miss when I visit the Big Mango is the great Aussie pie, pasties and sausage rolls with Rosella tomato sauce. Ah yes – what I would give for a pastie smothered in Rosella tomato sauce. I was reminded recently of the great pie war between two Pattaya businessmen, both competing for a slice of the market. It all ended in tears with the two of them going out of business, presumably making life so difficult for each other as to make business impossible. But I am certain the market remains. Can anyone tell me where I can get a pie that tastes just like the ones back home?

Stickman's thoughts:

A good pie is real hard to come by here!