I love travelling to different countries and tittering at all the amusingly-titled food packaging - 'Bimbo' bread, 'Fart' candy bars, 'Crap's' chocolate etc. (I'm so mature). I'm also obsessed with finding out what strange food habits other nationalities have. We Brits have some really poor food heritage that make foreigners cringe: Marmite, SPAM, stinky hot dogs with onions from dodgy geezers around Oxford Street tube station and withered 'elephant leg' kebabs or pickled eggs on a Friday night after the pub. When I first travelled to Thailand five years ago, I thought I knew roughly what to expect in the realms of wierd food offerings: perhaps dried squid chews, smelly durian fruit and the odd dried insect. But I didn't realise you could find 'dirty' food as well - Thais are crazy for stuff like day-glo Frankfurters and tinned condensed milk!
I have photographic evidence...
Observe the Thai love of processed meat – they are just crazy for Frankfurters, those nasty (I think) pink processed sausages in vacuum packs. You’ll see them being grilled at street stalls on kebab sticks, sometimes carved or etched into different shapes, or just lying in piles of unappetising shades of beige and pink. Wherever you are in Bangkok , a Frankfurter kebab is never more than a few metres away. You can get them at train and bus stations too, in case you get a dirty pork craving on the move.
Hark! Sausage man can sell you a wiener at the bus station - mmm, what colour to choose?
Or, get your fix at the train station: puts Upper Crust in the shade does it not?
Eek! Thai-style sausage rolls, with frankfurter goodness:
Which shade of brown, pink or beige is best?
If your Frankfurters weren't plastic enough, vacu pak them!
Another thing the Thais seem to lurve is tinned Nestle Carnation condensed milk. They chuck this gloop into fruit smoothies (urgh – why?) and all hot beverages. I can’t think of anything less refreshing in the sweltering tropical heat…
It's 40 degrees centigrade: I know, a nice refeshing glass of tinned condensed milk will really chill my mouth:
Carnation not your thing? Have a lovely Yakult, it's on sale EVERYWHERE:
I tried the squid and holy basil flavour of Lay's crips: dirty but strangely good. Less nice was curried crab - a deeply unsociable experience...
The least appetising cakes! Pandanus leaf sponge with soybean paste filling, anyone?
On a slightly different note, I am including the following but in no way does it fall into the dodgy junk food categories above: this was an amazing sea bass salad eaten at the lovely Shantaa Resort on the island of Koh Kood. It's almost so pretty it hurts, right? It came with a sweet/savoury peanut sauce on the side. It was crunchy, salty and sweet, and really addictive. I badgered the hotel manageress for the recipe: she wouldn’t give away the quantities, but told me that the sauce contained fish sauce, garlic, chilli and…caramel peanut brittle! After a week of eating this tooth-rotting sauce every other day, I have just booked to see the dentist...
Shantaa Resort's sea bass salad with special peanut sauce: