Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Goody Foodie

So. Being a foodie, I have apparently let my public down. Or so I've been told. Well, in my defense, I am an alien here, an abnormality in a land of normals. Meat-loving, bone-chewing normals....Ok, they're too cute to chew bones. Still. There were days when, for some reasons, I had limited access to markets and I feasted on wheat bread and water. But apparently, my 'friends' don't want to hear my heart-rending tales of woe and suffering. They just wanna see food. Fine. Whatever. Hmpf. I so empathize with whoever did this piece of graffiti...

Thailand has its share of ultra-refined supermarkets laden with imported products, farmers' markets bursting with fresh produce and such. I appreciate I have a refined audience who've seen it all and would not gawk at all that like a country bumpkin fresh off the boat from a drought-ridden village in a third world country. Just saying.... Not that that was me......Moving on.

Street food dominates the food scene in this country. It's vibrant, it's interesting and it's everywhere. Some of the stuff I see as I walk the streets...

This I really do see a lot of! Various types of meat on sticks, that sell anywhere from 10 to 50 rupees or so depending on the meat.

So, this guy I really love watching. It's kinda like Subway on the street. He makes made-to-order omelets. You can pick your ingredients, which he puts into the steel cup, breaks in an egg or two, adds seasonings and sauces and fries it up.

Fruits. A big packet of a chopped up fruit of your choice costs Rs.40. It's kept on crushed ice, so its refreshingly cold and crisp when you bite into it, just like God intended.

Wayside eateries operate on narrow strips of pavement. They usually serve meat with noodles, soup or rice. This one specializes in the most popular dish I've seen here in Bangkok, eaten morning, noon and night- a fried egg or an omelet served over steamed rice, with some sides of meat. They usually operate in a tiny space- a small dish-washing area, a cooking area and a strip of road that's the serving area.

This is a delicious dessert that will make the fat molecules in your body send out a clarion call to the fat molecules floating in the Universe with the message, 'Come home.'

The sign reads:
Roti with egg and banana  Rs. 70
Roti with banana              Rs. 60
Roti with (I forgot)             Rs. 40
Roti, pandan flavored         Rs. 30
Roti                                 Rs. 24

So the plain one, she flattens the dough ball, fries it in enough butter to make you look to the stars for divine help, douses it in enough condensed milk to let you know that help ain't never coming, asks you audaciously if you want a liberal helping of sugar and then rolls it up. I got the banana one; it's stretched out and therefore thinner-

Some stuff... I cannot fathom what they are, and having less signing skills than the more advanced gorillas, all I know is that this is some sort of sweet thing.

They're big on desserts here. There's sticky rice, sometimes colored and flavored, jellies, glass noodles, dried/preserved fruits, different types of beans and stuff, all swimming in coconut milk or other sweetened liquids....

This is an ultra thin crepe, with some marshmallowy thingy on top. It takes a lot to put me off anything sweet, but somehow this manages it nicely. 

And the same thing exists in a sickly sweet and savory combo. Thin sweet crepe, quail egg and a tiny meat sausage. Rolled up and served. I had a sans sausage version and felt like puking after the first bite. So yeah, not a fan!

This crepe is very diferent. While the ones above are crispy like our South Indian dosa, this one is super spongy soft. At first I thought they dip a cloth in the batter and rub it on the skillet, but it looks like the batter itself, which is of a somewhat solid sticky consistency, is applied directly by hand. They stack 'em up and sell them to people who take it away.

Sushi is popular, as expected and very pretty to look at.

At night, they become hard core and bring out all kinds of grilled squid.

Apart from that, there's the stuff you find that's very common. The chicken on a stick sold with packets of sticky rice, fruit juices, papaya salad, steamed dumplings, deep fried meat, milk tea with bubbles....

Chicken on a stick

The most popular juices are orange and passion fruit. The costliest one at Rs.100 is pomegranate and the cheapest at Rs.20 is actually vallaara keerai juice! (Centella asiatica). It's not as common as the others and tastes, um, not great. But I bet its healthy as heck! I've had it only once. *bows head in shame.

Steamed Dumplings

Omelette on plain steamed rice

Fried fish. Now, I don't know about your mommy but if you had an Indian mommy who saw this, like I do, she'll gasp, cover her mouth with her hand and wonder about the fish guts that are obviously still inside the fish. She'll walk away, shaking her head, smug in a way that only an Indian housewife who's been cooking perfect meals for multiple generations can be smug.

Milk Tea, various flavors, with 'bubbles'. I swear, if they lined up the tins of condensed milk used in this country per day, it would probably set some record like stretching from one coastline to another or something...

So, that's the street food I've seen. I may have left out a thing or two. I don't go to any restaurants, especially the wayside ones I'd love to try if I could eat there. But I do accompany friends on weekends and I chomp on french fries or make a smoothie last unnaturally long. The usual stuff like Pad Thai or Tom Yum soup are delicious, I hear. I traveled some distance to get this vegetarian version of Tom Yum and it's worth it- chock full of flavor!

As usual, some of the restos have menus that they've goofed up on big time. They're good fun, though and I particularly enjoyed the menu at a place called 'The Beer Park'.

Crispy peanuts and cripy ones, anyone? I'm glad they didn't have a choice of 'crappy'; they'd have run out of peanuts, for sure.

(Apparently, the thai version reads peanuts/cashewnuts)


Move past the pig intestines, people, and take a look at the hunks of meat below! Our group was mostly women, so this caused quite a few raised eyebrows. I myself was all for it. It caused a long conversation that went something like:

Ooo, let's order this one.
Yeah! I'd like me some vikings!
Do they serve them hot?
I don't know if one serving will do....
We can share!
But I don't wanna share.
What?! I thought you were my friend!
But I want my own...
So that's how it is.
Don't. I can't even look at you right now.
Hey, you wanna get some Vikings?
I'll take 'em to go!

That's the gist of it. The Thai version says spicy chickens. I don't know if someone conned these poor owners into printing this, but they have my undying admiration. If anyone came to me for help of this nature, God save the initial draft of their menus, before my conscience kicks in, or rather, kicks me.

Finishing off with a pic of the food I eat- multiple variations of tofu and soy proteins cooked with different vegetables and spices. You see the deep fried stuff on the counter, on the top right of the picture? That's sticky sweet batter fried mushroom, kinda like the chicken on the stick, I think. I eat that everyday, rain or shine. It's that good.

So, that's a nice post on food, eh? I've done my bit for the public... apart from the great joy I bestow by simply existing?... (so many eyes rolled for that one that the earth's axis shifted a bit). Anyway, here's hoping you always enjoy your food- we're blessed to be living in countries where we have so many opportunities to exercise choice... *Now, which one of you three vikings will do for dessert, hmm? 


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