5) Thai food is healthy.
All right, a wise man should not need to suspect the richness of nutrition from cheap street stall food. The local family-style dining, which food is shared in circle, is not aligned with the fast-paced modern lifestyle. Office people, me too, resort to quick greasy sweety salty food like Khao Niao Moo Ping (Sticky Rice with Grilled Pork), Khao Man Gai (Rice with Oily Chicken), Khao Kha Moo (Stewed Pork on Rice), etc. MEATY AND CARBY FOOD.
A typical Thai food for health that even I have to eat regularly for dinner when I am on a diet is Nam Prik and Pak Tom (Chilli Paste and Boiled/Fresh Vegetable). However, this food is not mainstream to the international eaters.
6) Thai people eat cockroaches and worms.
“It was quite strange to see that the locals didn’t mix with the tourists. … What’s more – the famous insects are never eaten by the locals! I didn’t notice those fried worms anywhere else apart from the main tourist areas – in Khao San Road, they were sold to tourists only!”
Just because foreign media display the weird food, does it mean everyone here usually eats them? Ask a few Filipinos if they eat Balut daily, or ask some Chinese if they eat dog meat, or ask Japanese if they consume whale meat. The answers could fall into the same pattern: majority don’t but some people do.
Also, the cockroach-looking bug is NOT cockroach. The bug is water bug in a family Belostomatidae. These bugs can be found in natural water resources in rice field. They are clean by nature, even cleaner once the bug farming becomes more industrialised. These bugs are grilled until fragrant, pound or smashed into paste, and made to combine with chili paste – and tadaaaa – they become “Nam Prik Mangdaa”. However, don’t ask me how the bug itself and the Nam Prik taste like. I have never tried it. The idea of eating a bug hunted from the earthy place is weird to me.
The worm-looking thing is, yes, worm. These worms are Bamboo Worms. Some people claim that the fresh exoticness of uncooked Bamboo Worms tastes like Camembert cheese, whilst deep-fried Bamboo worms taste rich like cashew nut.
Don’t ask me I have never tried this earthy delicacy though…
If you wanna know more, you can ask Mark Wein for the introduction to Thailand’s insects, worms, and bugs. Mark Wein is the second Bear Grylls alive on this planet earth.
7) Dog meat is a part of Thai cookery.
I start to be confused whether the notion of “Asian eat dog” is really just a racist joke or real dumbness of whoever says this sentence. In Isaan, the Northeast of Thailand, might still be having some people consume meat of black dog. It’s claimed that Golden Retriever meat does not make a pleasurable taste. What about Corgi, Chihuahua, Siberian Husky? I don’t think these foreign dog breeds are the choice for eating. I start to be confused again whether the telltales about some Isaan people eating dogs that I heard in my childhood is really true…
I am not sure if the notion of “Isaan people eat dog” is really just a racist joke that central Thai people make fun of people from the Northeast or real dumbness of whoever says this sentence.
8) Thai food is eaten with bare hands.
Nope. The first time I ate Thai food-looks-alike food with my bare hands was in Indonesia. In Thailand, bare hands are most enjoyed when eating with sticky rice because of the sticky gummy texture of the rice. Jasmine rice or normal non-sticky rice is eaten properly with fork and spoon.
Part of this belief could be from the illusion that people from the First World countries think Thailand is a kingdom of jungle where people do not wear shoes and ride elephant to get fish in the muddy river.
9) You can eat the whole amount of a Thai dish.
Western people who are not well-cultured to Asian culinary setting are more likely to order one big bowl of a curry and finish the whole bowl alone. That’s sad to hear for us Asian that someone has to finish the whole heavy food alone without sharing.
Daniel, a fellow backpacker from Germany, instantly had a puzzling look when his friend Phil, a German trainee residing in Bangkok, and I were scooping out the food which he ordered. He suddenly snapped “It’s my food!”. Phil chuckled and explained simply, “Daniel, you are in Thailand and eating Thai fooddddd. Food is going to be shared.”
The made-to-order dish or quick one-plate dish (Aahaan Jarn Diao) is not supposed to be shared. A meal that comprises plain rice, a bowl of soup, a plate of fried stuff, dipping sauce, a plate of some other food, should be taken pleasure in group.
10) Thailand is not a nation of noodle soup, Vietnam is.
Not true. The iconic Pho noodle soup of Vietnam is ordinary to me due to the close similarity with our “Guay Tiao Sen Lek” (Thin Rice Noodle Soup). I rolled my eyes when Vietnamese recommended me Pho when I was in Vietnam. Nothing wrong with recommending their true default dish (like our Pad Krapao). What disturbs me is Vietnamese themselves act like they are condescending to educate us about the world of noodle as if Thailand does not have noodle type of food. When Vietnamese or foreigners suggest me try Pho, I feel like someone is telling me to get an unexciting noodle soup in the nearby neighbourhood within 10 metres walking distance just because we have no idea what we want to eat.
I am not looking down on Vietnamese cuisine. I enjoy Vietnamese food the most in Southeast Asia. I am pointing out that the difference between Sen Lek noodle and Pho is not obvious. It is like asking a Malay visiting Indonesia to try Indonesian satay, and asking an Indonesian visiting Malaysia to try Malay satay.
From this website alone, A Guide to Thailand’s Noodle Soups, I can count that the mainstream types of noodle in Thailand are around 23. The number of noodle dishes in the reality will be more than 40.