Five Favorite Foods in Thailand– These are my favorite gap-cao, literally translated as ‘with rice.’ Usually a dish is ordered or made for the table, placed in the middle, and people take spoonful at a time put over your rice.
Mango Sticky Rice
I can not believe twenty-two years passed until I tasted the tangy deliciousness of a ripe mango. My host mom in Ayutthaya first had me try the pair together, the drumbeat of taste from the mango (picked from our tree in the yard) softened by the sweetness of coconut milk mixed into the sticky rice. This has quickly become one of my all time favorite desserts. I have one more cold season with ripe mangos, I plan to eat as much as possible.
A Thai staple, especially for breakfast, pad-pak is probably what I eat the most when I stay with Thai people. There is a lot of sautéing in Thai cooking. It’s up to the cook, but any kinds of veggies can be used, but the ones I see most often are carrots, baby corns, broccoli, tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, and kale. Sometimes pork is added as well for some added weight to the dish. A nice, colorful meal.
Cashews are expensive in Thailand, so it’s often hard to come by this delectable dish in the village. I have no idea how they make it, but I order it whenever possible in the city when I decide to eat ‘local’ instead of engorging myself with comfort (ie Western) food. I think pad-med-ma-muang might be my favorite meal in Thailand because I can so rarely get my hands on it.
Another food transformed by my experience in Thailand is pumpkin/squash. Again, my host mother introduced me to pad-fuk-tong as I giggled and learned that ‘pumpkin’ sounds like an English curse word. All hilarity aside, I was a little dubious of squash-like vegetables, but was (obviously) pleasantly surprised with it. I like it most when pork and egg are made with it.
The first time I saw this dish, I was not completely convinced that it wasn’t spicy/had any admirable taste qualities at all. I was wrong. In Thailand red dishes tend to be scary spicy, but this is actually a little sweet. This one dish turned me on to curries. Sometimes pumpkin is thrown in and adds to the fun.