There is a saying, that Thailand’s favorite hobby is eating.

If a Thai is not eating, at least he/she is thinking about having something to eat, soon.

This is mainly the reason, why you see so many small kitchens, restaurants and street- food stalls all around: there is always a way to grab a quick snack, some fried bananas, some meat- skewers or a noodle soup. Even the convenience stores are offering a whole range of microwave foods from sandwiches and Salapaos (Chinese steamed buns) to complete Thai rice dishes.

Eating in Thailand is more than just taking in or consuming calories. It is a way to socialize and communicate over something enjoyable.

Especially around lunch time, you see whole groups of people, flocking out of their offices, chit- chatting on the way to the favorite food courts of the day. And you can be sure, before they left the office, there was a lively discussion going on about where to go for lunch.

There is no shortage of places to eat from high end restaurants to mobile food stalls. There is almost no shopping center and no business area that doesn’t entertain one or two of them.

Food, glorious food

And if you don’t mind the heat and the street food (and its questionable hygiene), you will find some great food at very low prices. The average rice or noodle dish will cost you between 35 and 40 baht, plus a bottle of water for 10 Baht…so you will enjoy a complete meal for a little more than 1 Euro.

You should be warned, though, especially for a middle-to- northern Europeans like me. Some of the dishes are challenging, to say the least.

First of all: they are very well seasoned, e.g. very spicy and hot.

The thing to learn here is “mai pet”!

Mai pet” means literally “not spicy”. But since most Thais like their food hot and spicy, your wish will be granted with a slightly less spicy dish, than the one that will burn your tongue away straight. “Mai pet” depends on two components: a) how spicy is the original dish and b) how much pain is too much pain for the cook!

Local food- court

And if you venture out for a night on the town, you may stumble upon some food vendors selling the most daring of all Thai specialties: insects of all kinds or frog on a stick!

I must say I tried frog. It was actually not bad at all if you can overcome the visual. Because the dish is what it is – a small fried frog on a stick.

Not everybody’s cup of Earl Grey, I presume?!

I also tried grasshoppers (just crunchy, no significant taste, except for what is put on them oil and chili powder) and ant salad (done with lemon grass, chili and garlic…and actually very nice). I couldn’t get myself to try the maggots or the big water- bugs, though.

Barbecue- meat on a stick

 

Eating out, at the small venues along almost every street in Thailand, is an adventure.
One, you can absolutely not afford to miss.
You will, in the end, experience many very pleasant surprises.