The eating habits of Thai people are very different from what we are used to. Here, people eat 6 or 7 times a day – eating a lot of small meals, instead of the 3 food-loading sessions a day. That’s why food can be found on just about every street. There are even food outlets inside supermarkets over here.
To find street food Chiang Mai, you should first hire a bicycle from your guesthouse or any of the shops that rent them out (40 baht per day). Breakfast, lunch, dinner can often be found at different street food markets, and some street vendors only operate at certain times of the day. It wont take too long to find a street full of tasty meats being grilled, salads made and customers fed.
Northern thailand is known for a couple of dishes in particular:
- Chiang Mai sausage – full of pork, ginger, garlic, chillies and a whole bunch of spices. WARNING: eating these sausages produces the kind of burps that brings tears to eyes, peels the paint off walls, and in Asha’s case, makes pretty girls embarrassed that yes, they made that smell.
- Kao Soi – A very rich yellow coconut milk curry, topped with fried noodles.
From what we could see, the food here seems richer and probably more meat focused than down south. The issan influence from the North-East and Laos can be seen.
Fish sauce, dried shrimp and fish, and fishy pastes are all still heavily used – as in the old days they would keep and could be transported from the coast. There are plenty of local river fish on sale – many species I have never heard of, and from some dubious water sources. I ate a local serpenthead fish one night a a restaurant down by the river – but whether that is what was actually served to me I wasn’t sure. It was a inoffensive fish, nice flesh but little flavour, and more than a few bones.
Papaya Salad (Som Tam) and sticky rice
Meat on a stick isn’t a meal on its own (well, it has been many times for us). But fear not, the perfect accompaniments can be found at the market as well.
The absolute staple of northern Thailand and Laos food is sticky rice – glutinous rice, that is soaked in water for a few hours, before being steamed in a bamboo basket. I can eat sticky rice all day long – Asha’s favourite meal seems to be sticky rice and tomato sauce.
Grab a bag of sticky rice and a delicious green-papaya salad to add to your meat-sticks, and you have your self one hell of a meal, all for a couple of bucks.
Over and out,