Readers' Submissions

Meat And Drink

  • Written by Union Hill
  • August 18th, 2006
  • 5 min read


Fortunately for me, I am one of those people who can eat and enjoy all kinds of food. I enjoy eating and I am always ready to taste something new or different. Occasionally in the course of my travels, I come across something that I don’t particularly like, but not often. One lunchtime in Beijing I was offered pigs ear and cows lung which I tried, but neither really tasted of anything much.

I particularly enjoy the food in Singapore. Fishead curry and pigs organ soup are a couple of local specialities that I am quite partial to. However, I can take or leave the chickens feet and the sea cucumber. There is a food stall in the food court of the Amara Hotel that sells vegetable or chicken or mutton curry with rice or bread for three dollars. The next time you are in Singapore wondering what to do lunch, check it out. It’s awesome. I love Japanese, Indian and Malaysian food too. I found the food in Korea however, takes a bit of getting used to.

In Thailand, I will eat whatever the locals eat. It matters not to me how spicy the som tam or the tom yam gung is, I love it.

When I first met my wife, she had very conservative ideas about what she would put in her mouth. Basically, if it wasn’t Thai, she wouldn’t even taste it. She was amazed that this farang could not only tolerate but actually enjoy chilies with everything. Gradually I introduced her to some foreign dishes such as Indian curries, roast lamb and mint source, beef with horseradish sauce, German-style pork knuckle and pizzas. These days she is quite at home in any European or Asian style restaurant. She has also learned to navigate the wine list with ease and she dives in with relish to anything I conjure up on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon at home.

I have spent nine of the last ten Christmas’ in Asia but every Christmas Day I religiously prepare a full scale Christmas lunch with roast turkey and the works. My wife looks forward to it and the in-laws who live close enough come round too. Off course the in-laws insist on having theirs with rice and papaya salad but still I am proud to have created our own little piece of Christmas tradition in Thailand.

When I was just a little hillock, I worked for a while in a hotel kitchen. Although I had no formal training, I picked up a lot of useful tips from the chefs and the bar staff there. The result is that I am pretty handy in the kitchen and can mix up some knockout cocktails and punch type concoctions. Barbeques round at our house are usually quite spectacular.

Recently, I got to thinking about why some people are such fuss-arses when it comes to food and others are not.

My brother-in-law back in the UK is a pain in the neck when it comes to meals. With chicken he will only eat the white meat and will surgically remove all traces of skin with his knife before eating. He does the same with any traces of fat on his bacon.

My father believed that rice was only good for making rice pudding and if you ate too much of it, your eyes would go slanty. I remember him saying to my mother once, “don’t you bring that foreign muck into this house”. At the time, he was referring to spaghetti.

My mother will inspect every forkful of food intensely before putting it in her mouth. The result is that it takes her three times as long as a normal person to eat her dinner. I have asked her what she expects to find in her food but of course, she doesn’t know.

One of my sisters will only eat carrots that have been sliced lengthways, the other will only eat them if they have been cut crossways. Unbelievably, my mother would and still does cut carrots to suit them and serve them in separate dishes.

On one of my previous visits home to the UK, I thought it would be a nice gesture to cook dinner for the family one evening. I was of course blissfully unaware that my closest blood relatives had turned into the Adam's Family while I had been working overseas and produced a roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables.

My father hooted with delight because he hadn’t seen a mashed potato on the dining table for thirty years because my sister Julie didn’t like mashed potatoes. My sisters pushed their food around their plates without eating much and it took my mother a full forty five minutes to eat hers because of her strict inspection regime. They just didn’t like or want food that was different to what they were used to. I wished I hadn’t bothered.

For me, trying new food and drinks is a truly enjoyable experience, an enhancement of life itself. It seems that for others, it’s a tribulation.

In my opinion, Thailand offers some of the most glorious food in the world. How can you visit Thailand without trying the gaeng phet daeng (red duck curry), or the laarb moo (minced pork with aromatic herbs and spices) or spicy papaya salad. The fresh seafood must rate among the most spectacular in the world and you will find no finer or fresher seafood than that offered at the seafood supermarket in Bangkok. This place allows you to select the fish, crab or lobster that you want. They take it away and cook it for you according to your instructions. They will make recommendations on how to prepare it if you are short on ideas. Their lobster thermidor is bloody marvelous. It may be a bit pricey by local standards but if you’re on holiday, so what?

Many people however are simply unwilling to try or unable to appreciate the food aspect of a visit to the Kingdom.

I don’t work for the Thai tourist authority but may I suggest that the next time you find yourself in the Kingdom have your teeruk take you to an authentic Thai restaurant, give her license to order for both of you and sit back and enjoy. Not all the best experiences in Thailand take place in the bedroom. If you have never tried it before, give it a go. I bet you don’t regret it.

Union Hill

Stickman's thoughts:

I agree that food in Thailand is very good indeed. Actually, even a lot of the foreign food here is great. My favourite food, Italian, is extremely well represented here.