Friday Five: Things I Ate in Thailand.

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.

Noodles were a constant—noodle soup and pad see ew were highlights of the breakfast table, while pad thai served as lunch, dinner, and midnight snack.

The inoffensive spring roll. What’s not to enjoy?

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.

Contrary to what my uncle would have you believe, fried grasshoppers taste nothing like potato chips.

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.

Duck tongues: Kind of like more-difficult-to-navigate chicken wings, but chewier. You really have to work to extract the good bits.

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

…to the ubiquitous banana-leaf-wrapped, fruit-filled sticky rice…

…Thailand’s street food lived up to its billing.

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.

Falafel has never tasted so good.

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6 thoughts on “Friday Five: Things I Ate in Thailand.

  1. jill says:

    I want to go back!!!!!!!!!

  2. Marsha Stanton says:

    mieng kum was my favorite!! (along with the pad thai and curry) i have been describing it to everyone, but had no idea what it was called. i should have asked you!! :)

  3. Jane says:

    Mieng kum here in Bangor, Maine, is also known as “Sweety Bitey” and it’s my favorite appetizer at the local Thai restaurant :) YUM!

    • Maya says:

      Jane, I’m jealous—I’ve never seen mieng kum on the menu at any of the Thai restaurants here. Then again, I haven’t really looked that hard, because I figured it was a lost cause; now that I know there might be some hope, I’m off to start the search. Thanks for the inspiration!

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