May 19, 2007

Eating Out in Thailand
Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand

Eating in Thailand is just as much of a joy as I remember it, although this time around I'm picking up on more of the cultural nuances.

For example, the use of a spoon and fork in meals differs from what common in the Americas (and other countries known to me). Here, you use the spoon like a fork, and the fork like a knife.

Both utensils in hand, you push the food (with your fork) onto your spoon, which enters your mouth. To the Thais, placing a fork in your mouth is a bit bizarre. When finished with your meal, place the fork so that it's cradled by the spoon in the center of the plate.

Rice-based dishes seem to come with a fork and spoon, whereas noodle-based dishes tend to offer up chopsticks (or simply a fork, if requested/stereotyped). I have yet to see a knife.

The taste of meals have ranged from bland, to robust, to lip-sizzling spicy—which is a hell of a statement coming from me, as I can go an entire year in the U.S. without finding a dish that's spicy enough. Fish sauce/oil mix with small slivers of sliced chili peppers (which isn't particularly pleasing to my taste buds), dried red chili, sugar, and vinegar are found at most every table and food stall.

I'm putting myself in places where I've got no idea what things are called, or what the script on the menu says. I have been known to simply point at a cluster of writing next to a price, and see what gets served up. Most often I'm walking around, looking at what others are eating; if I see something I like, I just point to the appropriate dish/person when ordering.

It's possible to to eat very well and quite cheaply without ever stepping foot inside a formal restaurant. The hardest part about any given meal in this country is simply deciding what you want to eat.

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