Thai Food For Thought

Eating in South East Asia can be a rather hazardous enterprise. In various parts of my blog I've described eating King Cobra, dog, bamboo larvae, giant wasp grubs, spiders, cockroaches, grasshoppers, worms, and perhaps the most life-threatening of all, a single serving of papaya salad spiced up a little with the assistance of twelve chili peppers. But moving on from the McDonalds theme in the last entry, one of the most iffy dishes one can order in Thailand, some suggest, is simple, down-to-earth, beef steak.

In European-style restaurants Thai origin beef is always at a fraction of the cost of imported meat, and rumour has it that this is not solely because of the shipping costs and import tariffs. Doom-mongers point at the mangy critters lining the sides of the polluted highways browsing on lead flavour blackened vegetation, and suggest that cheapskate red meat lovers in Thailand will be lucky to make it past 50. Who knows, but I'm grateful to Carol of the Chiang Mai Photographic Group for providing another delightful picture to remind us that much of Thailand's cattle is healthy and no doubt good to eat... although now I've seen the star of this photo, I'm rather reluctant to imagine her ending up on a plate!

Click on this photo for a close-up of cow and friend, clearly in a beneficial symbiotic relationship... "just a couple of inches further down please, there's a tick that's been annoying me for days now..."

Stick to proper Thai food in Thai restaurants or from street vendors, and you're pretty safe. You might not always know what you are eating... 'a-se-tek' is a form of kebab, not necessarily from a cow or other mainstream meat source as far as I can make out, but I'm not dead yet. (I had noticed a distinct drop in the number of rats around Chiang Mai streets though, shortly before coming over to France)...

If you want something familiar, from species you are in the habit of chewing on from the shelves of Tesco, here are a couple of easy-to-remember suggestions...

Cow Pat Moo - pork fried rice
Cow Pat Guy - chicken fried rice

Any more amusing suggestions from Thai-based expats??

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7 comments:

Alice said...

The drop in the number of rats may be a worrying sign...I came across this not so appetising photo on flickr. Rat Pat See Ew, anyone?

JJ said...

Eeeek. Now that the building work has subsided in our soi, the soi dogs are back...

Mr. Nighttime said...

Now I'm forced to wonder what it is exactly I am eating at the local Thai restaurants here where I live.

Does the government there provide any protections, such as food inspectors, hygiene standards, etc?

The FrogBlogger said...

Alice, I'll try almost anything, but I draw the line at rodents. I've not eaten rat yet - knowingly, at any rate. Still, there's a plague of the beasts in NW Burma at the moment, destroying crops to the extent that local farmers are literally starving. I imagine that they are not so choosy...

JJ, when building work is going on it's always a bit of a dog's dinner. Given the wages they receive, Thai workers aren't so choosy either!

Mr. Nighttime, you should be safe in the States, but even though there are inspections and norms nominally in the Land of Smiles, the main problem in Thailand is who has paid whom to ignore them. Ironically though, the only times I've got sick in SE Asia have been after eating in Western restaurants - never a problem with the food stalls that line the streets, their turnover in produce is rapid (so many Thais eat there) while the more expensive restaurants with relatively few customers can have food that's well past its sell-by date. Not so long since an English pub restaurant tried to kill me with a fish fillet than was (fortunately) so rank that the first mouthful only got halfway from the plate to my mouth...

Ben Shingleton said...

I'm pretty certain I haven't eaten rat, but I think I have eaten road kill in a Western 'cafe' in Pattaya. I used to go to the Western themed restaurants all the time when I first arrived in Thailand, not any more, mind you, there are a couple of good ones in Phuket, but as you say, it helps when there are plenty of customers, plus, if the food is garbage, the Euro people and the Americans just won't stand for it.

Hoo Don said...

What really amazes me when I'm in the village is the frog hunter, wellies, a spear and a light strapped to his head. Off he goes into the fields without a care in the world. I worry after dark if I've left the ashtray on the garden table and I've got to go out and get it. Snakes bloody snakes, that's what I worry about and he's off into their killing fields without a care in the world. Bloody amazes me and I always wonder if he'd sh*t himself if his batteries ran out.

The FrogBlogger said...

Ben - road kill eh? Bet they told you it was an errant cow. A rare Thai species with canines...

HD, what the hell do you do in a power cut! I've now got this image of you sitting up all night with a torch in one hand and an AK47 in the other...