Thailand, a gourmet’s paradise.

When someone talks about South East Asia, the first place that comes to my mind is Thailand. Thailand is a wonderful place whether it comes to its architecture or food; it is a place to go at least once in a lifetime. Thailand’s architecture is wonderful, the temples’ architecture is one of its kinds as some of the temples are surrounded by a forest and when combined it gives a great view. I had the opportunity to eat and drink the food of several countries and being a gourmet I would say that the Thai cuisine surprised me by its large variety of drinks, snacks and desserts.

Kim-Siong Laï/

Some of the food found in the Thai cuisine may somewhat look like a Chinese or Indian dish and yet it would taste completely different.

Dinner, lunch and breakfast

The first dinner I had in Thailand was an egg noodle soup with wonton and cha siew on the side. What made this first dinner memorable wasn’t the egg noodle or the wonton or the cha siew, it was the soup. It was a clear soup with some grilled garlic in it and it was amazing, it tasted like a normal Mauritian soup that accompanies the egg noodle but it had a Thai touch to it.

Wonton soup with a Thai twist.

This was the first of the many soups that I would drink as almost all the dinners that I had would have a soup. The Thai cuisine has a large variety of soups, such as beef soup, several kinds of seafood soups and pork blood soups. The pork blood soup may not sound appealing at first but I would highly recommend it as it tastes wonderful when combined with the proper spices. There is a large variety of seafood soup in Thailand, it would usually be very spicy and a bit sour but it would taste so amazing that you would want more of it as it is packed with so many flavours.

Lemongrass is the signature of many seafood soups in Thailand.

The sour taste would come from lemongrass and this little touch adds some freshness to the soup making it more appetizing. If you are in the south of Thailand you would have a greater variety of seafood, and some restaurants allows the customers to choose the crabs, prawns and fish you would like to eat.

The lunch and dinner would usually not have an entrée but it would have a soup, rice or noodle, vegetables and meat and last but not least, a dessert. The noodles come in all sorts, such as egg or rice noodle which can be flat or in long strips and I would highly advise trying as many different kind of noodle as possible. The most famous Thai dish with noodle would be Pad Thai; it can be served with seafood, pork, chicken or beef and would ordinarily be accompanied with raw soy beans and lime.

A few Thai friends told me that a traditional Pad Thai would have a hint of tamarind when eating. The Thai dishes with vegetables and meat can be stir fried, grilled or boiled, you get the idea and it is then cooked with spices which will combine well with the flavour of the vegetables or meat. The dish that I would consider one of the best Thai dishes would be their curries which would often be vegetables and meat. I would like to emphasise on the fact that the Thai and Indian curry may look the same and yet taste completely different.

The Thai curry is very light when compared to the Indian curry; it has coconut milk, herbs and aromatics leaves which make it completely different from the Indian curry and is usually served with fried roti. The Thai curry comes in all kind, it can be yellowish or reddish; it can be served with chicken or seafood and all kind of vegetables.

Unusual Thai strawberry dessert

For dinner, I once had a dessert which I would consider quite unusual but surprisingly tasty. It was strawberries which were cooked with sugar, the strawberries would then release its juice and were cooked just enough in its own juice for it to be soft but not mushy. It would then be put in a freezer but taken out before it’s completely frozen and the end result is amazing, the strawberries are soft but not mushy and the strawberry syrup would have bits of crushed ice which would melt in the mouth making it a delicious and refreshing dessert.

The breakfasts in Thailand can sometimes be ‘hearty’ ones; I once had for breakfast grilled pork patties with its sauce and rice. I would say it was an uncommon breakfast but it was quite pleasant as the grilled pork patties and rice were in small portions, just enough to make you hold till lunch. The grilled pork patties and the sauce by itself were amazing; the grilled pork patties were glazed with a sauce making it a bit sweet. There is also another breakfast that I would call uncommon was grilled bananas accompanied with a sweet dip. The grilled bananas are Burro bananas which are shorter and smaller than the bananas we usually come across. The grilled bananas are first peeled, roasted and then served with a sweet dip, the banana itself isn’t that sweet and most of the sweetness will come from the dip that it is served with.

If you don’t want to be adventurous and be on the safe side, you can have noodles with soup and some boiled vegetables, tofu and meat on the side which can be found everywhere. It may not look that appealing on paper but it’s actually really good especially if the soup that accompanies it is tasty.

Snacks galore

The Thai friends that would show me around were always snacking; they would snack between lunch and dinner and especially after having their dinner. This gave me the opportunity to taste so many Thai snacks and I was amazed by the large variety of Thai snacks available, such as dried squid, fruits and roti.

Dried squid stall

The dried squid in particular piqued my interest; when it is sold, the squid has been dried beforehand and is then cooked for about 30 seconds, passed through a rolling mill several times to stretch it and finally cooked one last time for about 30 seconds. It is then served with a sweet dip but the combination of the saltiness of the seafood and the sweetness of the dip makes it a tasty snack. This snack however is hard to come by as during my whole stay in Thailand I saw only two street vendors selling dried squid. Thailand has a large variety of fruits, such as mangoes, mangosteen and bananas. Those fruits are readily available and can be bought and eaten as it is, however some street vendors sell fruits, such as pineapples, with a sauce and it is definitely something to try.

Thaï roti.

The Thai roti is different from the Indian or Mauritian roti and it is usually considered as a sweet snack and light while in Mauritius and India it is a staple food and hence salty. When I first heard that it was a sweet dish in Thailand, I was sceptical as I never heard of a sweet roti before but when I tasted it I realised how good it actually is. There is a larger variety of sweet roti than salty roti in Thailand and I tried both the sweet and salty ones. I ate cheese roti which is obviously a salty roti and tried quite a few of the sweet ones, such as banana roti, and I encourage all those who ate salty roti but not sweet roti to try it as it’s a very interesting and pleasant experience. The one that I liked the most was the banana roti, it was fried just enough to be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, the bananas were cut into slices and were cooked just enough to be soft and have the same consistency as the roti. These two elements combined so well that I am surprised they don’t have this dish in Mauritius.

Drinks of tropical paradise

Thailand has a large variety of drinks and they would usually be served with a lot of ice, the drinks can be fruit juice, tea and smoothies. When visiting a coastal city it is very common to see a lot of street vendors selling fresh coconut juice, it usually is a whole coconut being sold which means the juice and the coconut flesh. The greatest difference between the milk tea of Thailand and Mauritius or China will be the toppings. Thai milk tea usually comes with a broader variety of toppings, such as popping boba or coconut jelly; these toppings do get well with the milk tea as the toppings do not have the same texture or taste.

The toppings not having the same taste has a huge impact on the drink as it changes the taste of the drink from time to time and hence making it a refreshing drink. Thailand can get really hot sometimes and smoothies being quick to make and refreshing just makes it the perfect drink to drink while visiting around. The smoothies also come in a large variety, such as mango or strawberry smoothie.

Let us not forget the king of Thai juices: durian juice. Yes it smells strong, Yes it can get you kicked out of some places for the aromas are somewhat pungent. However once you understand the complexity of the flavours of the king of the fruits, it’s juice is like pure paradise in the oesophagus.

These are but some of the gastronomical discoveries to be made in Thaïland. So if you ever are over there, do be adventurous and try the local cuisine. While I am still with you, know that if you travel to Balaclava in Mauritius in a few years, I will be happy to recieve you in our own, Mauritius cuisine restaurant. Welcome to all!

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