Adventures in street food

Beef satay satisfies the soul
Beef satay satisfies the soul

By the time dinner rolled around, I was starving. Where to go? I needed to get out of the hotel, so I asked the concierge for suggestions. He named a couple of places and handed my a small map. Off I went.

After strolling around for a while, I decided that a restaurant wasn’t what I was looking for. In fact, I’ve already got dinner plans for my remaining two nights, so if I wanted to engage in culinary urban warfare, Bangkok-style, I needed to gird my guts and head for the real stuff.

I shall call her, Lady Larb
I shall call her Lady Larb

Oh sure, there are plenty of restaurants, though it seemed easier to spot the Italian, Korean, Chinese and pizza parlors than any authentic Thai establishments. And I’m sure they would have been perfectly tasty. But where’s the adventure in that? The street food here is so obviously part of the culture. Ignoring it would be like going to a baseball game and getting eggplant Parmesan. It just wouldn’t be right.

Even so, it took me a while before I grew confident enough to pony up the bahts. Eventually, I saw some beef satay stacked up on a tray. “I’ll take two,” I told the chef. He grabbed two sticks, stuffed them in the plastic sack and took my 20 baht.

As I walked down the street chewing the dry, tasty morsels, I wondered if I should go back for more. He had plenty of other offerings. No, I decided. Let’s try some others.

Soon, I passed an old woman with trays of fried rice, ground meat and other items. I smelled the familiar smell of chilis and citrus. “Is that larb gai?” I asked.

Larb gai is my brother's metric for Thai authenticity
Larb gai is my brother's metric for Thai authenticity

“Larb gai,” she answered. I’ll take it. She spooned some rice into a styrofoam tray and heaped a helping of hot ground chicken atop it. “Twenty-five baht,” she said.

I hurried back to my hotel, too hungry to stay out any longer. Back in my room, I opened the tray and scarfed it down. Damn, I thought. I should have gotten something to drink. That woman knows how to make larb gai spicy.

By the way, for those keeping tabs at home, my 45-baht meal equates to about $1.15. Who said the dollar is doing poorly?

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