Foreigners love their burgers, fries, soft drinks, and Thais need rice with every meal. But who would I prefer after living most of my life in Canada and now retiring from Chiang Mai, Thailand?
As in any big city, there are great restaurants for different tastes and budgets. Chiang Mai is no different . Thais love to eat . Restaurants are full of Thais and foreigners who are enjoying all kinds of cuisine. Instead of dealing with good restaurants in which we all eat, but not every day, this article deals with the Daily cuisine of Thai people in Chiang Mai.
Popular restaurants in North America are Harvey, McDonald’s and Burger King. Here we have street vendors. The end result is a quickly prepared and inexpensive meal.
Street vendors can sell fresh fruits like pineapple, mango, watermelon, strawberries (locally grown) etc. Each fruit is cut into small pieces and placed in a plastic bag and you are provided with a long wooden stick with which to eat it. The cost is generally 10 baht, which is about 25 US cents, and the fruits are kept fresh and tasty. Sellers also sell fast food and snacks. Again get a meal of cooked rice, meat and vegetables placed in a plastic bag, but this time tightly wrapped by an elastic band for about 20 baht or 50 US cents. Make your choice between rice dish, noodle dish or soup. Delicious and normally pre-prepared and packed and still hot or if you want to wait a minute, they will take it out of the jar and put it in the bag while waiting. So, a cooked meal and a delicious snack for about 75 American cents for many Thais in Chiang Mai, this is the most common meal. Then they go home, unpack the elastic bands, put rice in a bowl, put several cups from the table with a bottle of water and this is one of their meals.
We all love fast food and we all want it to be affordable. That we have in common. What you will find different between here and there is price, quality and service.
Price. The price of food, whether in restaurants or street vendors, is cheaper than what we use. A filling meal can be taken for less than 1 US dollar for the food described above which includes a bowl of rice, cooked meals from street vendors and fruits from street vendors. For just US$2.50, you can dine in a complete all-you-can-eat buffet, including desserts, coffee, gratuities and taxes as well as a tip for the parking attendant. The prices are lower because the material is grown locally and because the labor costs are cheaper.
Quality. The quality of food here is much healthier than at home. At home, KFC, McDonald’s and Harvey are popular restaurants for lunch and dinner. If you think you are thinking about healthy foods, think again. Here you do not have fatty French fries, burger ketchup, mustard, onion, mayo and stuffed to hide the taste of the meat you eat. Here you eat rice, fresh vegetables, fresh fish, drink water with food, unlike plastic containers the size of a bucket filled with ice and carbonated drinks with sugar.
Service. A teenager who earns a few dollars more in a fast food restaurant or an adult who is working full time in a restaurant here. Which one expects you to provide the best service? Needless to say much.
If you are coming to Chiang Mai, do not look for restaurants that you normally have to eat. You can also stay at home and buy a video about Thailand, or watch a TV program about Thailand. The food here is tasty, healthy and inexpensive. The basic ingredient of all food is rice. Yes rice for breakfast too. I have never been one for rice. Potatoes were my main food. But potatoes are expensive here, and although I admit to buying them and making potato soup and chips, this is the exception, and not the rule. As I have already said, Thais are known to taste everything good. So, take fresh ingredients, mix them with rice and special sauces that are the key to taste and you have it – healthy, tasty and inexpensive food.
Top up if desired with fresh pineapple, watermelon, mango, strawberry or a dozen or more locally grown fruits and you will have a meal that you will enjoy and that is good for you.
The funny thing about food is that anything you don’t really like is good for you. What are your favorites? Cakes, pies, French fries, hamburgers, ice cream. Well, they are not so good for you in terms of eating regularly. What do you hate to eat? Broccoli, asparagus, spinach, brown rice, boiled chicken . Well, these are good for you.
So, if you come here to Thailand. Try several types of Thai food . Perhaps you will find a soup that you will not get tired of, or a Thai dessert that you have no idea what it was and enjoyed at all, or fresh fish that is abundant here. Shrimp, sea bass and more cooked on a large plate make you want more.
I have eaten food, snacks and fruit sold by small roadside food vendors and have never encountered any problems. The ingredients are fresh, stored on ice if necessary and the cooking areas are cleaned regularly. So I consider it a safe and inexpensive way to buy snacks and food. I suggest that you carry a bottle of water that can only be bought at 7-11 years old for only 13 cents because you risk getting a little dehydrated, especially if you walk a lot and this could be the reason for a quick visit to the toilet.
Are there things that I don’t eat that Thais eat? Yes, there is a fruit called Durian, Thais love it, but it has such a foul smell that when I tried it, I had to breathe through it. In addition to its smell, it has the texture of a pudding and is rich in flavor. I did not dare to try, and what I hope to be healthy to eat are fried worms. I think it’s just a matter of getting used to their vision. Maybe I could eat fruit and insects regularly if I kept breathing through my nose and closed my eyes while eating.
But you should try what we call Suki. This is a soup that you cook on your table in a saucepan with hot coals. You decide ingredients like chicken, beef, liver, fish and add them and take them out when cooked. Generally, meats come first because they take longer to cook, then vegetables. In about 5 minutes you have your own soup. There will be two small bowls with food. They are both made from hot peppers. One has a green paste visible, and the other has a red paste. You can dip your meat or fish in flour or put a spoon in your soup.
The green paste is spicy, makes me sweat a little and I want a glass of cold water while eating my soup. Red dough I do not touch and I would not advise you to try it unless you are accustomed to eating it or if you are Mexican. My girlfriend eats her Sookie with green paste and travels to the toilet in the middle of the night and does not brush her teeth here. A filling meal for 4 people for about US $ 3 and that includes taxes, gratuity and bottled water with a bucket of ice.
Remember how I said earlier that Thais have a reputation for flavoring all food. That’s right . The key is sauce . I don’t know what ingredients go into the sauce, but I know I wasn’t going to eat rice and now I’m going to scratch the bottom of every bowl of food that is served to me. The usual white rice cooked in a rice cooker combined with fried vegetables and meat with special sauces is simply delicious.
And if you want to know where I would eat now given the choice, a fast food restaurant there or a street vendor here? My answer here would be a street vendor. Here after the meal I am full, the food is delicious, the fruits are fantastic and the prices are very low and I feel in better shape.