Food, etc.

This post is long overdue. My family has been begging me for pictures of food from Thailand since the day I touched foot to land here. I’ve been accruing some photos, but shamefully, not nearly enough. I blame the poor lighting in most eateries (hello? street food) which leads to unappetizing photos. It would be an injustice to the food.

Some of my favorite street food I don’t even have photos of, like khao mun gai, which involves chicken on top of rice that has been cooked in chicken broth and served with a chili sauce, or kai pa loh, which involves a hock of pork leg simmered for days in a cinnamon-star anise-rich broth and hard boiled eggs. And tub tim grob! Oh, be still my heart. My favorite dessert! I won’t explain what it’s made of because you’ll just raise your eyebrows and go “Eh?” But I will say it involves a delicate strawberry-vanilla like flavor, with a bit of crispy goodness soaked on ice and coconut milk.

Here’s what I do have photos of though:

By the way, Thailand does indeed have excellent coffee. Our fears were much assuaged. Also: European desserts here are amazing.

Pure blended fruit juices. This one is orange and passion fruit.

Because remember these guys?

Lest you think passion fruit is the only interesting fruit around here, let me introduce you to jackfruit.

These guys are filled with little sweet yellow segments that are a bit crunchy/chewy and oh-so-yummy. But please do not confuse this spiny fruit with durian, which looks very similar, but with larger spikes. Durian smells to high heaven of the lovely perfume Eau du Diaper and tastes much like it smells. I think so anyway. A lot of people love it. But due to its intense perfume, in many cities in Asia, it is banned on subways and buses and recommended that you not enter public transportation at least 20 minutes after consumption. You think I’m kidding.

Much better for the palate, however, is mangosteen, sweet, delicate and delicious. Plus it’s pretty.

And did I mention there’s good coffee?

Because yes, oh yes, there is.

Also consumed, but not pictured above: pad phuk boong (fried morning glory – I eat this almost every day), tom kah (coconut soup), larb moo Issan (a northern Thai meat salad), deep fried fish topped with lemongrass salad, deep fried fish topped with five sauces, moo ping (grilled pork on skewers), yum talay (seafood salad), roasted duck in salads and curries, pomelo, dragon fruit, guava, and rotee (an Indian style crepe served with sweetened condensed milk).

And oatmeal. I found Quaker Oats at the grocery store and eat that with soymilk and a banana every morning because I’ve been a little stopped up since I got here. Better than the alternative I must say, which is what usually hits foreigners upon introduction to the Thai diet. (TMI?)

But on that note, you might have noticed some of the above dishes appear on the spicy side? I can confirm that they are indeed at least as spicy as they look. And what goes in must come out (FIRE IN THE HOLE!!). And a blog about life in Thailand would not be complete without…

A Word on Toilets

When you first arrive in Thailand, if you’re staying in a relatively nice hotel or in a fairly well-to-do family’s home, you might first see a toilet that looks like this:

Looks like a western toilet, except for that little hose & sprayer contraption right? That’s because Thai people don’t really use toilet paper to wipe their bums. They spray them clean. (Toby loves the bum gun.) It’s not unlike a mini massage shower head…so it sometimes makes me wonder how many Thai women have secretly been made “happy” with it. However, it is a good idea, when you do have toilet paper at your disposal, to cultivate a habit of wiping and then throwing it in the bin because many septic systems aren’t prepared to handle the TP.

It’s especially a good habit to learn to carry TP with you, because even though you try your hardest to also go to the bathroom when at home or at the hotel or other safe spot, you will eventually find yourself confronting a more traditional Thai toilet:

A glorified hole in the ground

This one is actually raised higher than most are. It’s also one in our house (in the backyard…for the gardener to use? Haven’t figured it out yet.) and so is significantly cleaner than many public ones. Whatever you do, DO NOT SIT on these toilets. When you see one with muddy footprints all over it, you’ll know why. These are for squatting over. You drop trou, squat, aim and do your business. You may notice there is no TP. Hence the need to carry your own at all times (to throw in the trash, not the toilet!). You may also notice there is no flusher. Ours has a sprayer, but most places will have a trough full of water and a bucket. Of course there are no signs to explain anything. What you do is take the bucket, fill it with water and dump it in the toilet until all your business goes away.

Fun, huh? Kind of makes our preoccupation with sanitary sheets over the toilets seem relatively quaint, huh?

Oh yeah, and you might be wondering how to dry off after spraying yourself clean? Never fear. Average drying time in Thailand heat is approximately 45 seconds.

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9 thoughts on “Food, etc.

  1. Loved the post. You go from yummy deliciousness to, well, poop. :-)

    Variety is the spice of life, right? I'll have to file the bathroom instructions in the back of my brain in case I ever visit Thailand. I'm certainly enjoying your adventure!

  2. LOL. On my front blog page, you have to click an extra link to go to the rest of the post, so you don't see the toilets immediately unless you click through. I thought it would do that on the post itself too, but alas, no. :P

  3. Hahaha! Sorry :) The food looks interesting, and I had to smile at the later part of your post – I know it probably doesnt compare, but when my sister and I were in France earlier this year and we got "attacked" by many a toilets. With the sprayers INSIDE the bowl, and automatic – also known as – beday?

  4. LOL. I've heard tales of the French bidet, but have never actually come across it in France. (Or if I did, then maybe it at least wasn't an automatic one.) I think I must say I'd prefer the bum gun to an automatic bidet. I wouldn't want to be caught unawares! :)

  5. Okay, so I'd really been thinking you're a great advertising campaign for Thailand. But, um, I don't think me and my digestive issues would fare so well…. I may have to rethink this….

  6. LOL. Actually I'm a little surprised at how few problems we've had since we got here. I think it goes to show how far Thailand has come in the past decade for sure, and even in the past five years since I was last here. And what problems do arise are generally pretty easily avoided. Drink only sealed bottled water and avoid raw fresh fruits and vegetables at least the first week or so (unless you're sure they've been washed in clean water). My issue of being a little stopped up I'm pretty sure comes from just having a big switch from a diet heavier in whole grains (when I did eat rice, I tried to always eat brown rice) and vegetables. The one problem of street food is that there are fewer vegetable dishes than when you eat in restaurants or in the home. But I just try to get as many vegetables as I can find and the oatmeal for breakfast helps a lot.

    I'm not sure exactly what issues you have to contend with, but there are certainly ways to be nonadventurous with food here until you get your bearings. :)

  7. I love Thai food SO much and your post just made me very hungry. :-) Thanks for the beautiful mangosteen picture – I'd been trying to explain to my family what they look like (describing the taste is quite a bit harder, lol) and now I can just show them your picture.

    As for the Thai toilets, I first experienced eastern toilets in India where they were often in MUCH worse condition than even the worst toilets in Thailand, so they were a piece of cake for me. They're actually much easier to get used to than one might expect, so readers shouldn't be too put off by them and they *definitely* shouldn't let it stop them from visiting Thailand (but yes, always be prepared with your own tp!).