Finally settled in to Bangkok and trying to figure out all of the ins and outs of this area. My first weekend out on the town was dedicated to figuring out where I’m located on the map. With the advice of some of my coworkers I decided to get on the BTS (Sky train) and see some of the other parts of town. After doing some research I found Sunkumvit soi 38 is the place to get a variety of Thai street food.
Hitting the streets and finding my way around on public transit was not as hard as I thought it would be. I felt very out of place being a tall American on the train. I must have looked out of place too, because two girls were sneaking pictures of me on the train. After getting to my stop I walked down what most would consider a dirty alley, but it had “tons” of street vendors with amazing food, serving a mix of locals and even some western customers. I walked up and down looking to see what caught my eye as well as, what would be “safe” to eat.
Sitting down at a small table, I was approached by an older Thai woman who didn’t speak any English. She handed me a menu completely in Thai. Using the little Thai that I did understand, I ordered some Larb Moo, and Som Tum, a classic Isaan meal of spicy ground pork and sweet spicy papaya salad. Most Thai restaurants in the West reflect Bangkok-style cuisine but, authentic Thai food varies from region to region based on geography and local history. The food of Isaan has more in common with that of Laos and is known for being very spicy and pungent, seasoned with fresh herbs and fermented fish. It also features some of Thailand’s spiciest salads. I was only half way through my meal when it started to look like I’d soon be experiencing my first Bangkok rain storm. It quickly started pouring buckets, and I decided it was time to head home.
On Friday I was asked to join the Newly Weds Foods Thailand 25th anniversary celebration. Little did I know I was about to get a huge dose of culture. I arrived at the manufacturing plant in Bang Phil and saw a huge tent covering a number of Thai themed food stations that had been set up. I was in heaven from all of the new smells and sights I was taking in. As I walked to the front door, I noticed the reception desk was gone. In its place were bright red floor mats and nine pillows arranged for seating. Everyone was taking their shoes off so I followed their example. I was told we were about to sit down and pray with monks. I was about to be a part of a Buddhist blessing with monks! Having never participated in anything like this before, I felt very much honored to have been invited to partake in this ceremony.
I was very excited to see this happen and of course had lots of questions. Nine monks entered the room and sat down. The room had filled with all of the Newly Weds Foods Thai employees, so I kept to the back of the room trying to take it all in. After an hour of monks chanting in Pali, one of the monks came in to the crowd and blessed each individual with water and a prayer. It was a very unique ceremony to be part of, and an experience I won’t forget. I was feeling blessed and ready to take on another weekend adventure, so I headed home to good old Sukumvit 11.
Brian Brindza is a Chicago based Newly Weds Foods chef who for a few months will be working out of the Thailand R&D center and providing culinary support and coverage in the Asia/Pacific region. Not only will he be exposed to new trends and ingredients from that part of the world but, he will be sharing his knowledge of US food trends with the group over there. This exchange of ideas is at the core of Newly Weds Foods commitment to bring new tastes from all over the world to your product portfolio. Follow Brian as he experiences Thailand and other locales first hand.