What I Ate in Thailand: The Best Food in the World

Thailand map itinerary

{This is part of an occasional series, “What I Ate In …”}

Thai Food

Thai food is delightful–an amazing variety of intensely flavorful fruits and vegetables, seafood, curries, soups with complex broths, noodles, rice, and spices, spices, spices.

Giant prawns Thailand

Giant prawns

I visited Thailand with my family in 2009. All of the food was prepared fresh, and it was usually cut into bite-sized pieces. Food was very inexpensive compared to America. There was so much variety, and we saw changes in the cuisine as we moved from Bangkok to the “Golden Triangle,” the region where Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma) meet, to a tropical island. For most of our trip, we were on a tour with G Adventures.

Whole fish Thailand

Whole fish with vegetables

Papaya salad Thailand

Papaya Salad

Curries and Noodles

Curries and noodles Thailand

Curries and noodles, from sweet to spicy

Five curries sweet to spicy Thailand

Five curries, from sweet to spicy

One of my most fun food experiences was when my guide, “Tommy on Tour,” brought our small group to a noodle restaurant for lunch.

Tommy lined up the curries from least to most spicy and told us a little about each one as we sampled them.

We also had Pad Thai at this restaurant.

 

Pad Thai Thailand

Pad Thai

Curry and rice Thailand

Curry and rice

Hot pot Thailand

Thai hot pot

Curried rice Thailand

Curried rice with egg

Street Food

Street food Bangkok Thailand Chicken and vegetables spicy chilies

Melt your face off chilies accompanied this chicken and vegetables dish. I bought it for 60 cents on the street in Bangkok, Thailand.

There were many cheap, delicious choices of quick snacks or full meals on the streets of Thailand.

The chicken and vegetable dish pictured above was delicious, but I ignorantly added a generous spoonful of a chili condiment. It was the most spicy thing I ever ate in my life! I think in the restaurants, the owners knew that most tourists could not handle spiciness like the locals, and they would serve tourists food that was relatively mild even if they ordered it spicy. That little bowl of chilies was definitely for the locals.

Streetfood Thailand chestnuts

Street food: hot chestnuts

Streetfood Thailand dumplings

Street food: dumplings

Street food Bangkok Thailand Squeasel Balls

Lost in translation: My son David had squeasel balls on the street in Bangkok, Thailand

My son David had squeasel balls on the street in Bangkok. Don’t know what squeasel is? We didn’t either. (Years later, I saw an Anthony Bourdain episode where he was served a “forest creature” called squeasel in Vietnam, and it turned out to be porcupine.)

Bangkok, Thailand

Freshly squeezed dragon fruit juice and orange juice from a street vendor in Bangkok, Thailand

Hilltribe Village

Northern Thailand hilltribe village guesthouse

A village guesthouse in northern Thailand

We hiked to a hilltribe village where we spent the night in a rural guesthouse. The cooks put us to work wrapping spring rolls while they prepared an amazing meal that we ate gathered in a circle on the floor. They also kindly prepared some “KFC,” fried chicken drumsticks for my younger son, the picky eater (not in the picture below).

Make springrolls northern hill tribe village Thailand

Wrapping spring rolls in northern Thailand

Rural village feast northern Thailand

Village feast in northern Thailand

Restaurant on street Singha beer Thailand

Singha, an inexpensive local beer, enjoyed at a restaurant with tables on the street, Thailand

Smelly Fruit

I had to try durian, a notoriously smelly fruit. It was smelly, but I have an oddly weak sense of smell, and it really didn’t bother me as much as it bothers others. It had a mild flavor and a creamy texture.

Durian in Bangkok Thailand

The notoriously smelly fruit durian

Night market fruit vendor Thailand durian

A fruit vendor at a night market in Thailand

Barracuda on the Beach

Food choices on the beach Thailand

Food choices on the beach, Ko Samet, Thailand

On Ko Samet, a small island a few hours from Bangkok, fresh ingredients for various dishes were assembled and wrapped in plastic. I would point to my selection, and the chef would barbeque it right on the beach. I was able to fulfill my decades-long desire to have “barracuda on the beach.” (It’s a long story. I wrote about it here: Barracuda on the Beach.)

Barracuda on the Beach

Barracuda on the beach, Ko Samet, Thailand

Ko Samet, Thailand

Barbecuing on the beach, Ko Samet, Thailand

 The World’s Best Bus Depot Food

Thai soup at a bus stop

Thai “fast food”–a delicious soup from a bus depot

Even the “fast food” was delicious. We stopped in a bus depot for a quick bite. My kids headed for American fast food, but my husband and I chose one of the most delicious soups I have ever had. We pointed to the noodles and meat that we wanted, and before we knew it a steaming bowl of rich, flavorful soup was being slurped down by us. If only they had fast food like this in American bus depots.

American Fried Rice?

American fried rice in Thailand

American Fried Rice in Bangkok, Thailand

One of the stranger meals I saw was called “American Fried Rice,” a dish my husband ordered out of curiosity at our Bangkok hotel. (I wrote about it here: American Fried Rice and Mother’s Day Brunch.)

Breakfast

Breakfast porriage Bangkok Thailand Chok

Jok, a thin rice porridge, in Thailand

During my first few days in Thailand, I had a traditional breakfast of jok, a thin rice porridge topped with a variety of condiments. It was delicious, but I was eating a lot of adventurous meals, and I ended up giving my system a little break by eating a simple American-style breakfast at each hotel. (I did, though, make a savory oatmeal inspired by jok when I got home.)

Snake Whiskey: Chok De!

Snake whiskey

Getting the strength of a cobra in Laos: Snake whiskey

Finally, I had to summon up my courage, but I was excited to try snake whiskey when I went across the Mekong River into Laos for a quick visit to a tourist shop. (I wrote about it here: Getting the Strength of a Cobra in Laos.)

I’ve had some incredible meals all over the world, but if I had to pick my favorite cuisine during my travels, Thailand’s was the best.

What was your favorite meal while traveling?

Related Thailand Posts:

What I Ate In…:

Temple in Bangkok Thailand

Timid No More front cover Read about my quest to complete 101 things in 1001 days: Timid No More.

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Elephant Ride

Elephant ride Thailand 09

Our elephants are headed
for dense jungle at dawn.
Although they know the path well,
the old man goads them on.

And yet more than elephants
go on this steamy day.
My boys leave for adulthood,
while I goad them to stay.

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{Note: I revised this after receiving a “love letter” about why it didn’t qualify for the yeah write grid.}

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Make Caramel Milk Candies

Making caramel candy collage

While Google knows my sons are on their electronic devices day and night, I can still get my younger son to join me for a cooking project from time to time. Even though he was deep into a game of Team Fortress 2, I asked if he could help me make something in the kitchen.

I had him at “sweetened condensed milk.”

I came across the recipe for caramel milk candies from Sasha Martin’s blog, Global Table Adventures, about cooking meals from every country in the world. I was reading about Costa Rica, one of the places I’ve traveled where I loved the food. (OK, I’ve loved the food just about everywhere, but still.)

Sasha had tried to make the candies by boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk for many hours, but the candy didn’t form the way she wished. Her readers helped her to troubleshoot, and maybe she shouldn’t have vented the can. At the risk of the can possibly exploding, though, I didn’t want to try it that way, and I tried another suggestion that cooks it in a microwave.

I cooked sweetened condensed milk in a bowl in the microwave for two minutes at a time, whisking it smooth in between each round of cooking.

It worked like a charm, and we had our candies ready to eat within about 15 minutes. My son took one into the other room to enjoy with Team Fortress 2.

Related post: What I Ate in Costa Rica

101 things in 1001 days Make caramel milk candies.

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Soaring

We ran off the cliff.
A thermal caught us and we soared,

tight
circles
up
on
a
column
of
air.

I landed, shaking,
never so close to death,
never so alive,
my first time hang gliding off a cliff –

and my last.

Marcy hang gliding Switzerland 1987

Lost in a Funhouse collage

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Oh My Garlic: The Garlic & Harvest Festival

(Video link)

I got my fill and then some of beloved garlic today at the Garlic & Harvest Festival in Bethlehem, CT.

Garlic ice cream … garlic pickles … whole roasted garlic cloves …garlic vinegar … garlic pesto … garlic cannoli…. Yes, you heard that right: garlic cannoli.

Garlic and Harvest Festival, Bethlehem, CT

Garlic and Harvest Festival, Bethlehem, CT

I loved her garlic earrings and garlic wand, not to mention her garlic outfit and garlic hat

I didn’t care for the garlic ice cream, but one of my favorite things was actually the garlic cannoli. All the sweet, creamy, and crispy goodness of a regular cannoli, touched with a subtle savory hint of garlic.

It was fun to walk around at this celebration of all things garlic.

I experimented with interviewing people for the above video.

Editing the video, I quickly spotted my weakness as an on-camera commentator.

My only description of the food was the comment, “That’s garlicky!” (But, yes, it was garlicky.)

Marcy with garlic ice cream

Connecticut garlic festival

Garlic and Harvest Festival, Bethlehem, CT

What’s your favorite garlicky food?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAP.S. I also completed a mini-challenge to interview some strangers and hand them my new blog business card. I felt more shy than I imagined I would be, but still managed to interview some people.

Some other Connecticut food posts:

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Travel theme: Interior

{Linking up with Travel theme: Interior}

Second Line to City Hall New Orleans 2007

Inside a Second Line, New Orleans, LA

Second line video. We were visiting an above-ground cemetery in New Orleans when we heard live jazz coming from the street. A second line was passing by on its way to City Hall. A few kind gestures later, we were in the middle of it, marching along with everyone else. This was such a joyous moment during our celebration of Mardi Gras in 2007; it was bittersweet, though, as the residents were protesting the government inaction following Hurricane Katrina. (The march was later featured in the documentary Trouble the Water. Alas, we didn’t make it into the film.)

Underneath Niagara Falls 2008

Underneath Niagara Falls

Going underneath Niagara Falls left a lasting impression of the immense power of the rushing water.

1000 feet underground mine Cripple Creek Colorado

1000 feet underground, Cripple Creek, Colorado

We went down, down, down into an old mine in Cripple Creek, Colorado. It was damp, cold, and creepy down there!

zorbing

Inside a zorb, Amesbury, MA

I paused for a picture inside my zorb, a moment of calm before the craziness. Do you know what zorbing is? You can read about my experience here — Zorbing: A Gigantic Hamster Ball and the Meaning of Life

Bleeker subway station New York City 2007

Could my husband look any “bleeker”? Bleeker subway station, New York, NY

I love visiting Manhattan, but the subways are always the times when we feel the fatigue from the rushing and the crowds.

Baseball stadium Cleveland Ohio

And the pitch! Inside the baseball stadium in Cleveland, OH

My son tried out his fastball inside the baseball stadium in Cleveland.

It's a Small World Disney World 2008

It’s a Small World, Disney World, Florida

The “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World: I remembered it as the happiest place on earth. My sons and husband were annoyed with me for hours. The song was stuck in our heads for days.

Beer: Helping ugly people have sex since 1862

A beer sign in an Irish pub in Athens, Greece

O’Canto Irish pub, Athens, Greece

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Beyond 101 Things: 14th Quarterly Report

14th quarterly report: July – Sept., 2014

It’s been a slow couple of months on the blog. My summer was filled with tennis, and now that I am back to work this fall, my days are consumed with school. I could only think of two “grid worthy” pursuits from the last three months.

Get Interviewed

101 things article

I went waaayyy out of my comfort zone to get interviewed about how I went out of my comfort zone. Being featured in my local newspaper was a great experience for me, and I was so touched by the support that people in my town gave me once the story was published.

Wear a Fitbit

Fitbit activity tracker

After months of inactivity, I jumped back into daily exercise with the aid of an activity tracker I wear on my wrist. I feel great now that I am exercising every day again.

Still writing, 42 words at a time

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

As far as writing, I am still tickled by the Gargleblaster challenge at yeah write, my first dive into micro-nonfiction as each response needs to be exactly 42 words. In true obsessive fashion, I’ve participated for 26 weeks in a row.

Instant Karma Gargleblaster w text

Have you had any “grid worthy” adventures lately?

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Karma in a Plastic Bag

She said
releasing the creatures
would make merit,
a boon for our souls
for under a dollar.

Freed from plastic,
they spread into the water
like goodness into the world.

But would she recapture them
early tomorrow,
so the cycle could repeat?

Instant Karma Gargleblaster

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From the DMV to the DMZ

David driving lessons

My son the math genius and I were rushing to his driving test, so I was surprised when he flicked on the right blinker for a detour.

“I’m just going to practice backing in for a minute,” David said.

Despite having 18 months to prepare, he needed to practice now. I obliged, but he was rude when he thought my instructions weren’t precise enough. “Google it!” he yelled, so we spent 15 anxious minutes on eHow while he missed the parking spot by a good three feet.

He finally got it, and we made it to the test one minute after his 5 p.m. appointment.

I handed over the paperwork.

“The VIN doesn’t match,” the DMV worker said.

“Huh?”

“The VIN on your insurance card and your registration don’t match.”

“VIN?”

“That card’s not for this car.” She handed me the DMV’s fax number. “You have six minutes to have your insurance company fax us your insurance card, or you’ll have to reschedule the test.”

Months before, my husband had handed me my insurance card for my Saturn, or rather, he had accidentally handed me his insurance card for his Saturn. My insurance card was in his car, at home, where I would have been, possibly with a glass of wine in my hand, if he hadn’t gotten stuck in traffic.

I called the insurance company at 5:05 and got a recording that their office closed at 5. No driving test.

It was a long ride home. I was angry at my husband, but I also groused to David that we would have had time to get the insurance card faxed over if he hadn’t failed to practice for 18 months.

“You share the blame equally,” he said, “because you should have checked the VIN, and you shouldn’t have let me practice backing in.”

I resisted the urge to plunge my hand into his chest and pull out his still-beating heart. I said, “That’s unacceptable. I’m not talking to you until you apologize.”

I knew this was a stupid thing to say, but there we were, and several days of cold shoulders passed.

I reopened the conversation thinking he would at least admit it was ridiculous to blame me for letting him practice. By then, though, he had spin-doctored it into a logical proof that went something like this:

“If Mom checked the VIN and David practiced backing in, then test; if Mom didn’t check the VIN and David didn’t practice backing in, then test; ergo, Mom and David bear equal responsibility. Q.E.D.”

Driving test Venn diagramI insisted I was blameless.

David then offered to make me a Venn diagram if it would help me understand. I stared at his heart beating in his chest. We were not ready to make up.

After a few more days, I tried a new approach.

“I’ll give you 5%,” I said. “Dad: 70% of the blame, you: 25%, me: 5%.”

We went back and forth. He offered: “Dad: 70%, me: 17%, you: 13%.”

I grasped his hand and held it for a moment. “And it was ridiculous to say I shouldn’t have let you practice backing in.”

He countered: “And my statement was poorly timed and poorly phrased.”

We shook on it.

“Dan,” he said to his brother, “did you see how I got Mom up to 260% of her initial offer?”

I added: “And did you see how David admitted he’s a doofus?”

We all laughed.

And that’s how you restore the peace mathematically. Who says you don’t use math in real life?

Related post: Driving Lessons

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Travel theme: Strong

{Linking up with Travel theme: Strong}

Jenever tasting bar Amsterdam

In Amsterdam, my husband and I got a tip about a tasting bar nearby, and we were enchanted by its strong adherence to tradition. The ancient bar was stark–no music, no decorations, no beer or wine, just an entertaining bartender who told hilarious stories and kept the Jenever flowing. (Related: Absinthe in Amsterdam)

Fez medina tanneries

Mint Moroccan gas maskThe strong smell of the tanneries in the Fes medina, Morocco, was formidable. Men toiled inside little vats to work the animal hides with their feet. We were at least offered a “Moroccan gas mask” to deal with the smell, which ended up being a sprig of mint to sniff. Surprisingly, it helped. (Related: Fes Medina video)

Rocky steps collage

You have to go strong or go home when you face the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We ran up them like Rocky and then jumped in triumph. Well, a slow jog would better describe my feat, but the kids tore up those steps like the Champ. (Related: The City of Cheesesteaks and Brotherly Love)

hiking Inca Trail

During my Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu, I was repeatedly amazed by the strength of the porters. With towering loads strapped to their backs, they would silently breeze by me as I huffed my way up the trail. I would make it to camp hours after them, and they would have everything set up and greet me with a glass of juice. (Related: Hiking the Inca Trail, Day 1)

Puno cathedral crucifix

Finally, in the lovely crucifix outside the Puno Cathedral in southern Peru, the strong influence of the Inca was evident. It featured a chicken, a pair of dice, a sun, and a moon. (Related: In Peru, the Inca are Everywhere)

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