Friday, December 14, 2007

It's all Thai!

“The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.” _ G. K. Chesterton

As always, places and situations are not what you assume they may be. And I found myself somewhere in the grey zone between a traveler and a tourist, desperately wanting to accept but sometimes unable to. Among other things, one thing I learnt about myself in Thailand last week was that I was less adventurous than I imagined when it came to food. Did the food have to be sanitized and deodorized and presented in the interiors of a plush restaurant to make itself acceptable to me? I hope not; after all, I did try the food off Chiang Mai’s streets _ sausage that was all cloyingly sweet cake in taste and texture, shrimp and squid fries that reeked but were as tasteless as very deep- and long-fried pakoda are wont to be, coconut cakes that smelt and tasted overwhelmingly of coconut, and almost unfamiliar fruit, which were lovely. And in the market, I saw boxes of fried, ribbed creamy worms without flinching.

But all in all, I could have done without that one peculiar smell that assailed me on the street - it was the same in most places, very strong, very sharp and I found myself hurrying past it, holding my breath. After some amount of study, guessing and mulling, I’ve concluded it’s a green leafy vegetable, a combination of coconut and pandan leaf/essence and the cooking medium that did it. What mattered is that it affected Me the Foodie. Now Not So Foodie, and it hurts.

More pictures follow from my trip, but meanwhile, please don’t forget the Grindless Gravies event – the deadline is December 22.


  1. Thats not fair at all!!! All Thai????
    Those pictures are fantastic and made so crave for some Thai now!!!

  2. sra, nice pictures and yes we may not always be able to accept certain dishes. But good that you were able to hold good. Btw..I wasn't able to find your email id. Can you drop me a line at

  3. Now, I was just wondering where you come I missed your last post :-(...but anyway, going through those pictures, you do seem to have had a blast...and if you've still got the same waistline,you have done a pretty good job, I must say:-DD

  4. Great photos. Dont you just love (most) SE Asian food? The aroma that is not my favourite, although I dont have to hold my breath and hurry past, is a combination of garlic and black beans, cooked in bulk.

  5. ah! waiting for more photos..glad you had fun..the cocnut jelly ? sure looked good...

  6. So what food did you like ? Is food in Thailand different from the Thai food we are used to ?

  7. I came here wondering why there re no new posts here...did not know u were enjoying in Thailand :) How was your trip..? It was nice seeing all those colourful pics....waiting to read ur travelogue, if you dont mind sharing :)


  8. WOW... so thats where you went! I am sooo jealous... I want to go to Thailand so bad...

    Amazing pics... I can't even begin to imagine the tastes you have experienced... I'm sorry to hear that you couldn't stand the street smell, but looks like you still had some amazing foodie experiences over there....

    I love the first picture, Miang Kum is my favorite Thai appetizer... Waiting for more pics.

  9. the extra sensitivity and aversion to certain tastes and smells is not just a 'foodie' thing. it happens to a lot of us. good to see you back, though i have yet to think of a grindless gravy i haven't posted already. is an old post okay?

  10. Those orchids! My eyes hurt from the beauty of them! More photos, please!

    It's OK not to like certain things. Try not to think yourself less a foodie for it. (Foodie - there's got to be a better word out there!)

  11. Padmaja, hope you had/get to have some Thai soon!
    Srivalli, pls check your mail.
    Sunita, I just now made up for it by eating some chocolate I got at the duty-free ...
    Vegeym, garlic, really? I'm not familiar with the smell of black beans but didn't realise there was garlic in the mix.
    Rajitha, actually, I liked the coconut-pandan centres better, the jelly was rather tasteless.
    Sandeepa, I liked most of what I ate, just that I couldn't eat more of street food because the smell put me off. I haven't had much Thai here, and here there's just the taste of basil - there I hardly came across any.
    Mishmash, my trip was interesting, even disturbing now and then. I'm still wondering how to go about the travelogue.
    Sig, I didn't do the beaches so can't comment about that but found Bangkok rather like an Indian city. The big differences were the skyscrapers and the cleanliness.
    Bee, it surprised me - I thought I wouldn't be able to stomach the extremes, like Bourdain does, but something as minor as smell ... I felt like it 'felled' me. About the gravies, I'm sorry, Bee, I'd asked for a fresh entry for this event. Hope you'll come up with something.
    Susan, now you've got me thinking. Gastronome? Not gourmet, isn't it supposed to be too uppity? And your comment made me wonder if I'd seen that second orchid with my bare eyes or just the camera - I've no memory of seeing it with my eyes, you know, that's sad.

  12. Hey i want to have the food. Love the pictures.
    I must admit once i made a thai dish and i used fish sauce and the smell from that oh it was disgusting, so now when i make the same dish i don't use the fish sauce.

  13. So Thailand it is. I cannot say anything about food as I have not been in a totally strange place. Enjoy your holidays.

  14. thai food is my favvvvvvv those pictures make my mouth water lovely post

  15. Looks like you had a grand time, thanks for sharing your vacation pictures, now eager to hear some stories in your riveting style.

  16. Lovely pics! Reminds me of my not- so-fond trip to thai..

    I kind of found a strong fish sauce taste in most of what they served. The only food that interested me was pad thai. Back home I tried to remake it but was a flop!!

    Do you like the taste of pandan by the way?

  17. Thanx for sharing those lovely pictures sra!Hope u had a great time holidaying!

  18. Lovely pics Sra. Thanks for keeping us in the loop with your travel.

  19. Great, lovely pictures, thanks for sharing.

  20. Happy Cook, thank you. I smelt the fish sauce up close but it wasn't as bad as the other stuff.
    Suganya, I'm back, it was an interesting trip.
    Sagari, thank you. That's a great compliment.
    ET, I hope to have something up by tomorrow, or by mid-week as I'm travelling again on Monday or Tuesday.
    Rachel, thanks. I like pandan, I even have a shrub at home that had its roots in Malaysia, but somehow the concentrated flavour that I encountered in Thailand was something else!
    Raks, it was interesting rather than just fun.
    Shella, thank you. Glad to share.
    Seena, thank you.

  21. Hey, glad you had a good time... Lovely pics, as always!!

  22. Where did my comment go? :( Never mind... the orchids are breathtaking! I didn't try any Thai food in Thailand, 'thanks' to the smell :) I love it here though!

  23. Lovely photos Sra, especially love the first one and the emerald Buddha. Very nice to live vicariously through your travels :)

  24. Ramya, thank you.
    Shweta, this is the first comment of yours I'm seeing - yeah, sad about the smell
    Linda, I liked those photos myself too, thanks.

  25. How I dreaded that smell here in singapore as well! You enter a foodcrout and there its slapped onto your face.... err... nose. But I am used to it now. Thailand is of course 10 steps ahead in this matter though.

    Though like authentic chinese food..... i detest authentic thai food. I am more on the modified version of both.

  26. Coffee, looks like the smell is common to all the countries in the region!

  27. sra
    nice presentation of photos
    If you enjoy cooking Thai here's a good site
    It's got about 30 popular Thai cooking receipes and each one has with a video


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