Fah Thai Magazine May June 2018

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OVERTURES

ARTS & CULTURAL MATTERS

SOM TAM OR PAPAYA SALAD CARTS

Many people can’t do without the

ubiquitous som tam or papaya salad

carts. Prepped, sliced and chopped in

a rich display are shredded papaya,

yardlong beans, cherry tomatoes, and

Thai eggplants. They find company

with glass jars containing flavourings of

dried shrimp, peanuts, and palm sugar.

Some carts assemble a minimalist

setup of trays for all the ingredients

with the key tool: a pestle and mortar,

and base flavourings of Thai anchovy

or fish sauce, managing to draw in the

crowds. The spicy papaya salad carts

usually come attached with a barbecue

grill for cooking chicken, catfish, and

cuts of pork. Another essential feature

of this type of cart is a large bucket

where packs of steamed sticky rice

keep warm.

OLD-STYLE COFFEE CARTS

The classic brewing method of traditional Thai coffee begins

with a large kettle of boiling water, cloth filter bags that strain

the brewed liquid, and a metal canister to hold the drink. With

this setup, ground coffee gets pressed into a filter bag attached

Words Sarita Urupongsa

Illustrations Arthit Limpong

It’s not a street food

scene in Thailand

without the iconic

presence of food carts!

From the early hours

of dawn to late night,

vendors attach these

wheeled workhorses to

motorbikes or bicycles,

planting themselves

at any convenient

location: sidewalks,

main streets, and small

alleys. When hunger

pangs or cravings hit,

our primer shows you

how to spot the right

set of wheels.

NOODLE CARTS

One thing all noodle carts share in common is the round

pit of a steaming cauldron where sumptuous broths,

stocks and water settle in an eternal rolling boil to

blanch noodles, vegetables, and meats. Usually a clear

glass box sits atop the side of the cart. Here is your

open glass menu, with a bi-level mouth-watering display

inside the box. The upper layer is usually reserved for

assorted proteins, like beef and pork cuts, BBQ meats,

assorted meatballs, fishballs, and wontons. The lower

shelf gathers different noodle types: thin rice vermicelli

BARBECUE CARTS

For office staffers to

construction workers –

skewered snacks serve as

comfort food. Pork, chicken,

giblets, or Northern-style

sausages to grilled bananas

or corn are their best friends

as immediate stomach fillers.

The smoke from the grills is

absorbed by an embedded

exhaust hood, which later

spreads the tantalising smell

further afield.

to wide ones, egg noodles, bean sheet noodles and

even instant noodles within easy reach. Some vendors

take pride in the already rich, flavourful taste of their

broth while other places season for you. Not to worry

though, as every noodle cart comes with its own set of

seasonings and condiments to cater the dish to your

own taste. There’s always a seat for you as most places

provide foldable tables and bright plastic chairs for their

customers to enjoy

the vibe of

street-side dining.

HAWKERS

Our special mention includes hawkers on foot who offer

a form of commerce long familiar in Thai society. The

authentic tradition has sellers carrying a woven basket that

perches on both ends of a slim wood plank and balanced

on a shoulder. In the baskets are usually ready-made

snacks which customers can grab easily for easy

consumption on the sidewalk or for takeaway.

Popular items include sticky rice with sweetened

pork or shredded pork, a spicy fermented pork

salad, cooked eggs, steamed peanuts, and

Thai desserts packed in bags or banana leaves

of local delicacies from different parts of the

country. Some hawkers even include handmade

products crafted from local natural materials; such

as wicker and other wood products.

to an aluminium loop with handle. With a firm grip, the vendor

pours boiling water on coffee grounds and waits for it to filter

all the way through. To sweeten the rich, dark coffee – sugar,

condensed milk, and evaporated milk serve as key options

for both hot and iced old school coffee. This type of cart not

only offers the aromatic traditional coffee and tea, but also

other choices such as an iced pink milk for sweet enjoyment or

Nom Yen (sala syrup mixed with condensed milk), or the more

familiar cocoa drink or lime soda. Some vendors have modern

equipment for espresso drinks thereby providing a longer drink

menu. Expect your drink to be served classic style: in plastic

tumblers encased in a bag with a handle for sipping enjoyment

while commuting. At breakfast time, some places even offer

warm toast with butter and sprinkled sugar in addition to coffee.

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