You may think you know Thai food after eating at a Thai restaurant. No, you don’t. You may think you know Thai food after eating at a Thai restaurant in Thailand’s touristic areas. No, you don’t.
Restaurants in Thailand are not made for locals. They’re made for tourists. They have menus, AC, waiters. They have seats and tables. They have touristy versions of local food, along with pizza, pasta and schnitzel.
Locals eat on the street. They buy food from little booths on the side of the road. They might sit at plastic tables or they might take the food home (soup comes in plastic bags).
You don’t get to choose from a menu. You might not even know what you’re pointing at. Most of the time, you can’t use English to communicate. You’re lucky if they understand the word “spicy”. That’s an important word to know. Because they take spiciness to a whole new level. I hope you’ll never get in the situation of being extremely hungry, then noticing the curry chicken you just bought is extremely hot (I’m not the king of guy that wastes food, regardless of how painful it may get).
A lot of people get scared when I describe street food. They find it unpleasant those booths don’t have running water or electricity. I must admit they don’t look too hygienic. On top of that, the guy that prepares the food sometimes likes to arrange it neatly. He puts a lump of rice in your plate, then breaks it with his hands. He then arranges a few slices of meat on top. He’s also the one that takes your money, gives you change, mops the floor and so on.
Yet, despite these, street food is worth it. It’s more than food, it’s an experience. Something I recommend to everybody that travels to South-East Asia.
Oh, and I ate bugs, grubs, locusts, crickets and a couple of small whole-fried frogs. Scrumptious!