The food philistine that I am I must admit that I had no idea there was regional differences in Thai cooking. i had always imagined that you took a few slices of meat added some spices and sauce then threw in as many chillis as it takes to blow the top of your head off and voila there you have it.
I was the same with Indian food until going to live there so I guess this shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. Northern Thai food is very different than in the south. The influence of Burma and Laos is great and the use of more sour root vegetables from the mountainous area. pork is much in abundance and from pork comes sausages a regional speciality . Now i’m a great sausage man myself loving the ones we get in Puglia to go on the wood fires etc so I asked our now resident taxi driver Kob where to go to eat authentic North Thailand food. he knew just the place the Aroon Rai near one of the gates to the old city.
Not much to write home about decor wise as you can see but full of atmosphere !
Sausages are a specialty. The best known is sai ua, which blends aground pork with dried chilies, garlic, shallots and lemon-grass to produce a spicy red sausage. There is also a sausage called naem maw, prepared in a clay pot with ground pork, pork rind and sticky rice, plus garlic and chili. So said the guide book but I have to say my thai didn’t stretch to asking for a particular type and so sausage was what we got. Now I am no food photographer and one commentator on this blog Jonathan who was a professional please look away now !
They were actually a little like black pudding to be honest but a much hotter version. They did however taste great and trust me the photo certainly doesn’t do them justice. We also had a couple of pork curry dishes made in the traditional style and they were good too.
The Aroon Rai is alongside the Chiang Mai version of Patpong in Bangkok with loads of girlie bars stretching down a side street. However if you are with your wife or girlfriend they trouble you not so before the meal we were able to have a few ales while the girls tried to encourage punters in from the pavement.
We found Tesco this morning
It is huge and packed with everything you would expect to find in a Tesco around the corner in the UK except Marmite of course. There is also a Boots in town as well and the Mall that houses Tesco had a Watsons to remind us of the USA. Oh to have these stores in Puglia. I actually think that a sign that Italy has really changed labour laws union controls etc will be their arrival on the Italian high streets. What a price revolution.
The street leading up to Tesco is in fact packed full of bars and restaurants so we have been flogging in to the Old City every night for absolutely no reason imagining we were ahead of the game. This Old Asia Hand is clearly out of practice and i must start doing more exploring .
I am keen to try the other regional speciality called Khao Soi and saw a sign for a place serving it as we walked back from Tesco so no prizes for guessing that Kob is redundant tonight for the first time.
The North is also noodle heaven, the ethnic mix of Yunnanese, Shan and Burmese having produced a seemingly endless range of kuay tiaw and khanom chin dishes. In Chiang Mai, the khao soy egg noodles eaten with chicken or beef curry and number of spicy and sour side dishes were brought in by the caravans of Yunnan Moslems. Wunsen noodles are another Chinese import; made form mung bean starch, they are a part of curries, soups and stir-fires. Khanom chin nam ngiew is soft thin rice noodles with pork rib, tomatoes and back bean sauce. So we have a load of eating to get through in the next few days. Wish me luck. s