Day 1 in Thailand: Mystery Meat

Our first day in Thailand was educational and entertaining. We flew into Bangkok last night and arrived at our hotel at about midnight. It was only 10AM in our original time zone, so we weren’t ready for bed. We heard some live music from outside our hotel’s sixth floor window and decided to go check it out. We are not near downtown Bangkok, more on the outskirts, so it’s not like the streets were full of people. But the receptionist said it was very safe and no need to worry.

We made our short walk around the corner to the bar. The band had finished by the time we arrived. It was an outdoor bar with a big screen TV and pop Thai music playing. When the waitress came up and gave us menus, we realized that we hadn’t yet learned any words in the Thai language. It made ordering a couple beers interesting. The waitress knew enough to say”kitchen closed” when we tried to order some french fries – the only item that appeared in english on the menu.

When the guy on the motorcycle pulled up with his street food vendor cart attached on the side, we decided to go check it out. Again, not knowing one iota of the language made ordering a bit of a guessing game. The street vendor had on ice a bunch of different kinds of meat on a stick.

Toni was paying for the beers we ordered, so I went up and chose a few that were underneath a sign of paperboard packaging that said “Chicken” in english, even though it suspiciously did not look like chicken. I also chose a stick with squares on it that looked like tofu, and one stick with balls on it that was the biggest mystery of them all. I picked them all out of the ice myself and put them in a little green square basket, the kind of basket I could imagine french fries being delivered in.

He put them all into a little fryer. Toni came up and she pointed out the items she would have picked, which were exactly what I picked. We had a good smile over that. The vendor put our fried pickings into a paper bowl and drizzled red chili flake sauce over the top. We returned to our table and had our beer while we guessed at the mystery meat we had just received, which neither of us liked very much.

After our time at the outdoor bar, which we enjoyed, we went to the corner grocery store right next door. We saw packages of the meats we ordered, and they were all labeled as “fish meat”. Except for the squares, which were tofu/fish meat. From other packaging we saw, it’s likely the “fish meat” was from cuttlefish – which isn’t quite fish, but more squid-like creatures. Now I understand why we didn’t like it. We would up leaving our leftovers for a pack of street dogs on the corner.

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