Operation Street Food – Day 1 (Food Safety)

Posted: February 3, 2010    Categories: Thailand

Preparing my lunch

Preparing my lunch

My first day of street food went surprisingly well. I focused on grilled meat products because….well…it was easy to order. Here is how the day broke down:

  • Breakfast – 3 pieces of chicken satay. 15 baht (US$0.45)
  • Lunch – 3 grilled chicken wings and chopped grilled pork. 40 baht ($1.21)
  • Dinner – Chicken with rice, soup and a mango/sticky rice desert and a sprite. 140 bhat ($4.24)

The first thing that should jump out at you is that street food is REALLY cheap. I’m sure if I could speak Thai, could hunt around for deals and haggle, I might be able to pay less. For less than the cost of a Big Mac value meal, you can eat for a day if you stick to the streets. My dinner was actually sort of extravagant and I could have easily eaten for only 40 baht

My dinner

My dinner

The second thing that should jump out at you is that I mostly ate meat. This is primarily due to the fact that I hit the streets at lunch and breakfast at a time when not a lot of vendors were out. Also, some of the stands which seemed to serve more types of food didn’t have any signs in English so I didn’t have a clue what to order. This is something I’ll rectify in the days to come. I’ve gotten some great tips from people on Twitter about where to go and what to try for street food in Bangkok.

I’m not a foodie and really don’t know too much about Thai food. I usually just let the cook order for me when I eat out, and it almost always works. The downside is that I usually have no clue the name or the ingredients of what I’m eating.

Dessert: Mango with sticky rice

Dessert: Mango with sticky rice

I also thought I’d address the issue of food safety today because it is usually the first thing people raise when the subject of street food comes up. People have a fear of the unknown, and food prepared in a foreign country on a street corner immediately brings up thoughts of food poisoning. I can tell you first hand that street food is safe.

Street food is about as dangerous as a backyard BBQ.

The preparation, sanitary conditions are about the same as you would find cooking on a grill or tailgating. It isn’t like locals are immune to food poisoning. They have every incentive to keep things clean as people in western countries do. Several times in just the few days I’ve been here, I’ve seen people washing dishes at their stall. Every street vendor I’ve seen packages their food in plastic bags or styrofoam boxes, just like a real restaurant.

If you find yourself in Bangkok, for goodness sake eat some food on the street. There is little risk and it is a quintessential Bangkok experience.

I also want to give a shout out to Gregg from GreggToDiffer.com and Akila and Patrick from TheRoadForks.com who I had dinner with tonight. It was great fun. Please check out their blogs.

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