Bad News, Good/Bad News

Sawadee y’all,

Twenty-something years ago we tested our blooming relationship with a month-long trip to Thailand. Having both matriculated, we find ourselves here once more, this time on our way to Laos and testing only the limits of how much we can eat in day. So let’s just cut to the (culinary) chase, shall we? (Cultural and other observation to come later.)

Exotic lowlights: Prior to arriving in Bangkok, while cruising the Narita airport (Tokyo) we spied a bag of cookies that aptly describe us. (See unretouched photo.) Passed on those. Then there was the boneless, skinless, chicken breast shaped object (served with childhood memory-riddled Swanson Turkey TV Dinner “stuffing”) which was bizarrely sponge textured but admittedly moist and somewhat flavorful.

Okay, on to the real grub highlights. The Thai rep for Alan’s company took us to lunch at a lovely open air restaurant near the river. He and his wife ordered up a tsumani of food which we tried in vain to finish. First up was a pot of Tom Yum soup with an intensely flavored broth that had a hint of Chinese five spice powder. Excellent. This was followed by small disks of fried fish cakes with a sweet chili sauce and crispy fried basil. Extraordinary. Must ask Su (the rep’s wife) to help me find a jar of the right sauce, and figure out how to deep fry basil… a lot of basil. Garlic pepper greens. Lovely. Then came the salt-crusted sea bass with two sauces – the first, almost a lime-infused tomatillo salsa; the second, a sweet garlic chili. Ecksanser asked Alan if he wanted some rice, and our best-mannered boy, expecting just a little bowl, replied, sure. So out comes an enormous platter of crab & vegetable fried rice. I could feel I was starting to expand – especially since I’d already downed a Thai iced coffee and an entire coconut milk/water served in the fresh husk (Alan had a beer) – but I’d lost all self control by this point and couldn’t stop. Ecksanser and Su picked up the menu again and we assumed they were going to order a little sweet for dessert – which they did – but not before the gigantic grilled langostines. Oy. Finally, the Siamese Fantasy Ruby arrived. Colored, grape shaped, gelatin-like covered nuts and thick batons of coconut swimming in an iced “soup” of sweet coconut milk. While not on par with, oh, say gelato or a flourless chocolate cake, it was damn good.

We worked off the soup by walking to the Air Asia office to arrange our flight to northern Thailand (with a plan to cross overland into Laos). There we met a South African version of The Illustrated Man. With the exception of his face, every square centimeter (yes, EVERY) is covered in gorgeous, fluid, vibrantly colored tattoos. Evidently, he had recently attended a big tat convention where we’re sure he was a standout. We had a little trouble following his spiritual philosophy but got the gist of his struggle including the daily shrouding of multiple gods (the Ganesh covering his left forearm is exquisite) on his body when he does morning meditation. Observant Jews are forbidden from getting tattoos yet he sports a penny sized Star of David on the crown of his head. Actually, we had trouble following pretty much everything he was babbling about but thoroughly enjoyed the corporal art show.

If you’re reading this, I didn’t die from snacking on fresh jackfruit at the night market. The size of a large watermelon, jackfruit has the texture of a green pepper with the flavor a cross between pineapple and mango. It has moved pretty high on my favorite fruit list. We followed up with a light dinner from street vendors: banana & Nutella roti (Indian pancakes) with sweetened condensed milk ($1.30); huge pahd Thai with egg ($1). Oh, and for those of you who were concerned, 7-Eleven stores abound so there’s no shortage of diet soda for Alan.

The bad news, good news, bad news? I forgot to bring a belt for my loose fitting travel pants — not going to need one.

13 thoughts on “Bad News, Good/Bad News

  1. Great blog as always… I envy you both on how much you travel! Have a wonderful time and enjoy each and every moment… and for Alan… each and every ounce of Coca Cola! Or is is Pepsi?

  2. Hey y’all: Afoyo from the Pearl of Africa!! Glad you made the trip and hoping it continues well for you – food aside (hope you don’t pay for it on the other end..) Wanted to drop a line so you know I’m following you. All good here!

  3. You sound delightfully stuffed to the gills. I’m deeply jealous and now craving Thai iced tea. Have fun and I look forward to more delicious descriptions!

  4. Man that sounds a whole lot better than what I had to suffer through in Tulsa last week. Start thinking about how to bring back leftovers.

  5. Wow, that sounds awesome! We board the cruise ship in Cape Canaveral today for our own food orgy: ten restaurants and 24-hr/day food! Probably won’t hold a candle to what you’re getting for $1 though!

  6. Oh yum, I have exactly a month till I’m there. When you get to Chiang Mai: Libernard Cafe – drop my name to Bong, the owner. Did most of my breakfast there – fresh fruit bowl w/homemade yogurt, seeds and nuts on top. Great expresso. She may be doing evening meals by now as they were redoing the patio. Great family and she can line you up with our masseuse, the best in Thailand. She is expensive, two hours is about $12. Try Le Spice, Thai influenced Indian food with a great lunch special. Down toward the river in the Night Market area near the three high rise hotels, on the small soi behind Burger King of all places. More later….

  7. Disd you guys bring along an empty zip lock bag to bring us back some samples???? Sounds great so far….

  8. Diet Coke Rules! Sounds so far like a vast improvement in the food dept. over the last trip…I’ll be in SB…say the word for the home spun version when you return…or we could do a cooking event in SF too! Gather those recipes.
    Keep the reviews and news coming…fun to read….and, of course, continue to Enjoy!


  9. Two little jackfruit fun facts: it is allegedly the flavor the Wrigley’s company was going for with “Juicyfruit” gum. Size-wise, I’ve seen them in Thailand, Vietnam and Hawaii larger than 4 feet tall! Love ’em, but love the lychee, rambutan, zapotes, atamoyas, and longan even more….

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