I am writing this post from a hotel lobby in Bangkok, Thailand. I bought a bottle of water in order to utilize the free wi-fi. Over the next two weeks, I will visit Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket respectively. Of course I am here to experience the culture and beauty of this fantastic country, but as you might guess, I am also here to sample some of the most diverse cuisine in the world. As a lover of Anthony Bourdain, I have watched him repeatedly travel to the most remote places in the world to eat anything and everything. Since I personally coined myself a foodie, I intended to do the same. That is, until, I got here.
Confession: I have been in Thailand for three days and I have not sampled any Thai food. I know what you’re thinking. This girl is an amateur. If she was a real foodie she would be downing cockroaches and slurping bubble teas with the best of ’em. That was the plan.
I woke up early my first morning here, excited to walk to the nearby outdoor market, packed with rows and rows of food vendors. What would I try first? A green curry? Spicy dumplings? A beef skewer bursting with flavor? And then, I got there. I guess I was imagining the Thai version of the taste of Chicago. Not so. Pounds and pounds of raw meat sat exposed in the 90 degree heat with flies feasting on the gooey skin. The smell, a combination of sewer water, body odor and hot oil, made my stomach feel as if I had gotten food poisoning just from looking at the food. I reverted to my Frommer’s guide to Thailand and quickly re-read the section about overcoming a fear of street food. I had previously laughed off the section; no way a foodie like me would have any fear. The guide noted that Thai people are meticulously clean with their food. Whoever wrote that must have missed the guy I saw washing dishes in a muddy bucket with a twenty year old sponge.
So here I am. My last four hours in Bangkok and not a bite of beef curry. I have, however, eaten an egg sandwich from Starbucks, a mushroom pizza and an unbelievable breakfast buffet at the JW Marriott that had more options than a wedding cocktail hour at The Standard Club. I had an egg white omelette and pancakes.
Since Bangkok is known to be a dirty city, I am hopeful that my adventurous side will surface in Chiang Mai and Phuket. I promise to do my best not to let you down. For now, just be jealous of the tuna pie that you can’t get at a U.S. McDonalds.