Are you tongue-tied over what to try in Thailand? Diving into a new culture can be intimidating, an authentic litmus test to determine you suitability to the winding side-streets or comfortable, air-conditioned lifestyle to which you’ve grown accustomed. Before you jump on the familiar, Thailand cannot be treasured for its raptures of flavour and fanfare from the safety of a hotel or resort. A traveller hasn’t truly been to Thailand, absorbed Thailand, lived Thailand, until the gates open and an intricate bazaar of experiences are savoured, explored and enjoyed. Sticking out like a sore thumb? Cut back on the chilli and follow these very simple food rules to eating like a local.
Indoors or Outdoors?
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. While the Colosseum is nowhere to be seen, the sentiment remains – when in Thailand, forget about the West. Indoor establishments are naturally synonymous with quality, culture and taste, we feel safe behind their closed doors; a sense of sameness lassoes our decision making and we’re pleasantly surprised by the very safe Western option – there might be something recognisable on the menu card.
Put the menu card down. Pack up and leave you table. Walk out and keep walking. The streets sellers and vendors are your source of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fresh, hot, cold, spicy, sedate, vegetarian, carnivorous, all glorious food options and available from specialty vendors littering the lanes and streets. Practice your Thai, meet the locals and become one with your culinary environment.
Right, Left, Chopsticks?
It’s pretty simple; keep it clean with the left and eat with your right! Sticky rice, finger foods and street delicacies should be consumed with your right hand – note, if you’re a lefty, this still applies to you. Your left hand is for solely for hygiene. While we’re sitting at the table or standing on the street, let’s discard any illusions or chopstick misconceptions. Thailand is not the natural home of chopsticks; in fact, our adopted bamboo/plastic sticks are only used for noodle dishes. Everything else is handled by a spoon and fork – do not pierce your food with the fork; instead, use the prongs to push food onto your spoon. Obviously, your left hand will get a little fork-lifting exercise here.
Are you listening?
What can you hear? Happy afternoon chatter, the clatter of foot-steps, carts, grates, doors – Thailand. Don’t turn off your senses. Let your nose and eyes lead you to your next meal; take chances on flavour and aroma, if something looks irresistible, take a leap of faith. You might even discover a new favourite. Food allergies require further discernment. Before biting into anything suspect, ask questions. If you’re still unsure of the ingredients or how certain elements will affect your allergy, stop and ask for something else.
The beauty of the Thai Island is unparalleled; a wonderland of contradictions, suited perfectly to every gear of life. Whether you’re checking in for a good time, a long time or a relaxing spell, the scents of the streets will reveal the underlying character and charm of this favourite destination. My Adventure store has everything you need to your next blue-sky getaway, visit their site and awaken your inner foodie.
Editor’s Note: This is aguest post by Emma Jane
Photo Credits (Flickr CC): Chopsticks by J R