Friday, August 15, 2014

Meals in a box - the Mango's fast food alternative

I call them "meals in a box", or "meals in a bag".  They are meals prepared by the tens of thousands of food vendors on the streets of Bangkok.  Its fair to say that one does not need to have a kitchen while living here in the big mango because street food is so plentiful and cheap that one seldom has to cook.  Most locals living in the mango do not have kitchens in their rooms.  While many people have reservations about buying food off the street, citing hygiene and other health hazards, I've had no problems with eating street food for the last 15 years that I have been in the mango.  

The food is usually very tasty and prepared in front of you so you can personally evaluate its freshness and cleanliness.  There is a high turnover of the food and if you find a good vendor, they would likely have been at that same spot for many years.  Tables are sometimes available for those who want to eat on the spot rather than taking the food home. Take out meals usually come in Styrofoam boxes or plastic bags and they might also include disposable utensils, napkins, and sauces.  Soup and noodle dishes are usually put into plastic bags.

 2 egg veggie omelet over rice with some fresh papaya - 50 baht

Dining on the street is an experience everyone should try on days when the weather isn't too hot.  

One of my most memorable experiences occurred in the mango many years ago which I replay from time to time in my head.  I was eating a rice soup dish (khao tom) out on one of the side street in Ratchada when suddenly a fierce downpour of rain came and drenched the streets. The streets were starting to flood and people started to scatter, but I was under a large umbrella with my hot bowl of rice soup, sitting on the street in Bangkok, thousands of miles from home, with not a care in the world.  The rain had cooled the air and I can still taste the delicious soup from that night.  The Chinese/Thai man that sold the soup and I had struck up a conversation on something I don't remember.  He has long retired (he had been there at that spot for more than 18 years selling that one dish), but I still have that memory experience embedded in my mind to this day.

Most mornings after my walk, I drop by for an egg omelet over rice and some fruit.  Those items along with some apple juice make up my morning breakfast.  I sometimes buy some barbecue pork sticks with sticky rice or a three course meal in a box depending on my cravings for the day.  Typical cost for my omelet meal is 35 baht and about 15 baht for fruit.  Total cost is around 50 baht ($1.50 USD)

I could opt to go to a hotel buffet every day, but why bother with the hassle and cost when something from the street is far better?  Life in the mango...wouldn't trade it for any other city in the world.  

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