#32 The 'food culture' of Thailand
Post #32 from SE Asia
From the eastern side of Bangkok, Thailand
March 15th, 2010
Look at these foods.
These are from all the just ordinary markets where regular Thais eat daily. You will find this in every town here you visit. This food is as good as any from the best restaurants. The Thais have a food culture here. It appears to me that the poor people eat about as well as the wealthy in Thailand. And Thailand in many ways, is becoming a wealthy country.
Eating is very social here. People eat together every day. To eat alone here is considered strange. On numerous occasions, when I have entered a cafe alone to eat, others have invited me to sit with them. They are very curious about my bicycle and my journey. But I also think that they do not want me to eat alone. In Thailand people do not eat at home as much. There is an abundance of fresh, just-made eateries selling wonderfully delicious, inexpensive food. I see entire Thai families going out to eat in the evening with other families, having a long leisurely meal late into the night.
Where are their supermarkets? I have not honestly seen ONE supermarket in my 11 weeks of cycling in 4 countries in SE Asia. How can this be? Well, they simply cannot compete with the loud, in-your-face vibrant food markets happening almost 24-7 all over SE Asia. If you want anything, at any time, fresh, just go to the food market. If you don’t know where it is, just follow your nose. There will be one closer to you than you think.
The local people truly do control their food here. They have done this for 100’s of generations, and this is not about to change. Imagine going to a farmer’s market 7 days a week and buying ALL of your food from somebody your family has known for generations. All of this food is fresh and just picked, cut, caught, or butchered. This is how it is here. And I do not expect this to change any time soon. The culture of food here is too strong, and the people just do not have the surplus capital to afford all of the price increases that supermarkets bring.
I ate a large piece of bamboo the other day. Well, actually, inside of it was a delicious, semi-sweet rice pudding with fruit and beans. They cook the rice pudding while it is in the bamboo. The bamboo is somewhat charred on the outside. The end of it was plugged with a dry banana leaf. How did I get at the rice pudding? I broke it open with a rock. And what did I do with the container when I was done? I threw it in a field, knowing that it would bio-degrade into compost for next year’s crop. This was BY FAR the best rice pudding I have ever had.
I will adding to this food post as I discover new things here.