You can wring a whole lot of meals out of two weeks in Thailand. Here, a small taste of what I ate on my recent trip:
1. Familiar Territory.
I had to stop myself from ordering a version of pad kra prow at nearly every meal. The hot chiles, the fresh basil: irresistible. This particular plate came with an egg, which made it even better.
2. New to Me.
These lovely green bundles are called mieng kum, and they were one of my favorite bites. The vibrant betel-leaf wrapping conceals the perfect mixture of salt, sweet, spice, and crunch, thanks to a filling of chopped ginger, toasted coconut, diced shallots, dried shrimp, peanuts, chiles, and a squeeze of lime, topped off with a tangy sauce made from all of the above, plus sugar and shrimp paste.
They’re sold pre-assembled on the street, but at the restaurant we went to on Christmas day, the elements were served on a platter so we could make our own. There’s an art to folding the leaf; here, my cousin-in-law demonstrates the proper technique.
3. VERY New to Me.
I’ve now consumed blood in two different preparations—those liver-colored chunks in the photo above (around 2:00) are in congealed form—and I think it’s safe to say that I don’t thoroughly enjoy the stuff.
4. Street Food.
From the cooked-to-order seafood pancakes at the Pak Chong night market…
…to the pork-and-shrimp dumplings from Chiang Mai’s Walking Street…
5. A Change of Pace.
One of the best meals we had wasn’t Thai at all. File under Things I Didn’t Know Before Traveling: Bangkok has a sizable Israeli-expat community. Which we were pleased to discover, as we scarfed down hummus with warm, freshly baked pita, parsley-laced tabbouleh, and spice-laden chicken shwarma with abandon.