Introductions and Baang Saen

Geez... My first post, where do I start? Reckon I should introduce myself: Hi, I'm Austin. I'm a 28 year-old American freelance photographer based in Bangkok (whew!). I've lived in and worked in Bangkok for nearly eight years now and I can speak, read and write Thai fluently. I'm really interested in the food in this part of the world, and just between you and me, it's probably the only thing that's kept me in this lovely, quaint, clean, charming village known as Bangkok all these years (I'm assuming you're familiar with sarcasm?). So, anyway, the food: This site will be a place for me to discuss the food of Thailand, and SE Asia, employing a variety of techniques ranging from vivid adjective-strewn prose, to cutting-edge visual aids (also known as "photographs"). A particular emphasis is on "real" Thai food, which, despite the inherent ambiguity of the term, I think you all know what I mean. I plan to visit restaurants and foodstalls in town, diligently risking life and limb to reveal to you all the truth about Thai food. I will occasionally include info about the various elements/ingredients of Thai food, and will try to include recipes as well. Much of the inspiration for this site is due to noodlepie, Graham Holliday's hilarious and informative view on eats in Saigon.

Okay, the Food: I was in Baang Saeng, an hour east of Bangkok, on Sunday. This place is your typical Thai beach resort: banana boats, screaming kids, pushy vendors, alarmingly underdressed Germans, and most of all, seafood. Actually, forget all the other stuff about Germans, Bang Saen is all about the food. Only in Thailand would people leave the safety and comfort of their air-conditioned homes to drive an hour to sit under an umbrella and eat crabs from Styrofoam dishes. Baang Saen is approximately four kilometers of beachline that has been converted into what is probably the world's largest seafood restaurant. You sit at a sling chair under an umbrella, and vendors selling food come right to you. You don't even have to get up! The majority is steamed seafood, such as crabs

cockles, mmm...cockles...

and grilled prawns.

This is my friend A after he found out he had to pay for lunch. Poor guy.

This last one is my personal favorite, yam khai maengdaa thale, horseshoe crab egg yam.

And no, in case you're wondering, horseshoe crab is not a cute crustaceon but rather this loveable creature. Isn't it just the most adorable thing? Don't you just want to hug it? I tried to take one home as a pet but the vendor said something about the grilling process killing it. Anyway, I'm glad that Thais took the initiative to eat this, as I don't think there's any other society on earth that has the balls to do it.

For those of you not familiar with yam, it is basically a kind of sour/spicy Thai "salad". A yam is usually based around some sort of protein, such as squid, beef, or the eggs above, a bunch of chilies, and a dressing, typically a mixture of fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. The yam above has unripe mango, which is somewhat unusual and adds a sour taste. More commonly, yam are made with kheun chai, also known as Chinese parsley, for which celery tops are a good substitute. Many of the recipes for yam I've seen in English include garlic, which is not the norm in Thailand. I'll bring in a more complete yam recipe next time I make it for dinner.