Eating Thai food every day is a part of the fun of being here. When we were living in Amsterdam, one of our favourite places for dinner was a small Thai restaurant, a few streets away. Especially when in Songkhla, where we stay in a hotel, we go, for both our lunch and dinner, to the small food stalls around the corner.
Here we find a fusion of Thai, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine.
Some menus are in Thai and Malaysian (of which some words are similar to those used for Indonesian food, which is common in the Netherlands) or just in Thai. Only in the centre of town can you find some places with the English translation. Luckily enough, quite often there are a number of pictures to support the menu, so you get an idea of what sort of dishes you are looking at, rice, noodles or soups.
Since we don’t understand half of the menus, and most people speak very little English, and since welike to explore and have some variety, we have started to just point to a dish or two without really knowing what to expect. As a result we have, besidesthe well known green and red curries, also tasted afew vegetable dishes and a lots of egg dishes. And we have not been disappointed yet.
Some food is an explosion of tastes. Like the sour and spicy tom yam (soup), often prepared with shrimps, beef or chicken. While the lady was preparing, I saw her using almost all the bottles around her stove, soya, of course, and fish sauce, some coconut and carnation milk (I didn’t know this, however this seems a very important ingredient for almost all dishes here), lemon grass, lime juice andgalangal (family of ginger).
Some is a new taste, such as Khoitchau, home made by our friend’s girlfriend, who is called Beer.
It’s made with large flat noodles with vegetables and chicken in fermented soja bean sauce. A dish I would have never chosen myself, since fermented beans don’t sound that appealing to me, but which was surprisingly tasty and a dish I wouldn’t mind learninghow to make.
Other dishes are unexpectedly extremely hot, like a beef and basil leaves dish in which I discovered a large number of red peppers (it was a relief that we were in a place that sells beer, which is not always the case).
And then there are of course a huge variety of little snacks, like a roti with different fillings, pancakes, deep fried bananas, coconut ice cream and so on. Plenty tasty food to choose, and even more new dishes to explore.
And although I have loved all the food so far, and there is no reason to go to restaurants that serve over-priced and often poorly cooked western food,we had a Scottish Christmas dinner, cooked by Jim and Gary, and it was an absolute treat. With mashed and roast totties, broccoli, carrots, stuffed roast chicken, pudding with custard and a cheese platter.
And like Gary wisely stated, you can take the boy out of Scotland, but you can never take Scotland out of the boy. And that is true. As much as you can adapt, love to live in new places and try new things, there will always be moments it is nice to have something familiar. It can be food, a song, a magazine in your own language, or a chat with a fellow country man.