Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Thai Street Food, A Can’t Miss

Thai street vendor
Long before there were food trucks and pop-up restaurants dotting the American landscape, Thailand had street food. Without exaggeration, I can say you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten from the roti cart.

Sure the big hotels have fancy breakfast buffets teeming with continental fare and omelet stations, but did you really go to Thailand for an egg over easy and a crusty piece of white bread? If you really want to experience Thailand, I suggest you do it with your stomach. Your heart will follow.

On my most recent trip, either my husband or I would grab and child and go out and buy breakfast. Our hotel was near a skytrain stop so we didn’t have to go much farther than the street in front of the station. Each weekday morning, a series of different food vendors were lined up making fresh, delicious food.

Our purchases each morning consisted of pineapple, mango and cantaloupe on a stick from the fruit vendor, hot deep-fried Chinese donuts with sweetened condensed milk, and skewered chicken or pork cooked over charcoal.

Had we wanted to, we could have purchased freshly squeezed fruit juice, Thai coffee, or bought lunch for later in the day, as many employees making their way to work were doing.

Thailand is a country of food; its inhabitants snackers. When you visit someone’s house, as you are ushered in but before you’re barely seated, someone is bringing out a tray of ice water and a plate of fruit or treats. As a child, one of the best parts of going on a Thai car trip was the en route eating. Not only did the van get packed with enough snacks to feed a small army, but we’d stop strategically along the way for a mid-morning snack as well.

If you ever visit a hospital in Thailand you’ll see waiting rooms filled with people eating. If, in fact, you’re ever looking for a great street market, try the streets running alongside the hospital. They’re usually lined with green and yellow tent-staked awnings, a sure sign food stalls are below.

I was recently at Swensen’s with my cousin. We all ordered ice cream and then my cousin placed one more order. The waiter brought it to the table first along with several spoons. “What’s this?” we asked. “An appetizer ice cream,” my cousin responded.

Everyone picked up their spoons. “Gin cow” my cousin said, which literally translated means “Eat food.” So we did.

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