Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Eating Vegetarian in Bangkok and around



Young musician


It seems that I left Italy just before the weather turned really cold, I was lucky but I feel so sorry for all who had suffered because of the snow. Seeing photos of Venice full of ice in the paper this morning was quite shocking, I was there a mere two weeks ago and it all seems so unreal! And even more unreal thinking that my posts these days are about Thailand, where it is quite... hot! But I hope that these images will bring a bit of warmth to my Italian friends.


By the hotel's pool and Sala Thai restaurant


We stayed in this hotel in Bangkok, and on the same evening of our arrival we went to the Sala Thai (the Thai house restaurant) for a traditional dinner and dance. The setting, food, music and costumes were all a joy and an experience for the kids, who had never been here before, and thus enjoyed a first taste of Thai style! An hour prior to dinner I requested a vegetarian meal for us, and they obliged happily.



Actually, the meal was almost vegan, or so I think, but if you are vegan it would pay to specify that. We had a soft tofu and vegetable soup, vegetable spring rolls, potato red curry (actually, a piece of tofu in this one would have gone down well, never mind), steamed vegetables, rice, and some strange sweet and spicy caramelized cereal balls, which I guess were more than a snack than anything, but they probably had to fill the sixth plate.





Dessert was fresh fruit and traditional Thai sweets. The pink one is Woon Krob, or crispy gelatin (a paradox!) I tasted it but then wasn't sure if it was made with agar agar or not so I left it there. The green one tasted dry and floury and I had not idea of what it was and then I found it here (Ahloa, or sweet jems!), and the yellow one is Kanom Foy Tong, and it is not suitable for Vegans as it is made of sugary strips of egg yolk (to be honest it was the best tasting out of the three!). On a different day I also tried Pandan Noodles (Lod Chong Nam Ka Ti), which are quite ... photogenic, and of course I forgot to take a photo, but you can have a look here. They were on a 'fruit salad' buffet and I also had water chestnuts and palm seeds, plus nata de coco, but everything was too syrupy for me. And of course there is mango and glutinous rice (like in the floating market photo) but I prefer my mango sans rice.
We then tried coconut ice cream (which had some pandan pieces in it and was ok) and a few other 'sweets', but I don't think that I will return to Thailand for dessert.




After dinner the dancers came out, and they entertained us for an hour or so. It was a good evening, I loved the settings, the triangular cushions and low tables, the food (minus sweets) and entertainment, and I guess that if you have only a few nights here, a formal Thai dinner with music and dance, even as touristic as it may sounds, should not be missed!




Egg-fried rice
We had 3 more Thai meals in another of the hotel's restaurants, where they did have a vegetarian menu, but they offered just more spring rolls, fried noodles and fried rice (with eggs) so it got a bit tiring, but as we were sight-seeing most of the time, we were generally too tired to go and look for interesting eateries, and a couple of times we stayed put just to avoid torrential rain. For a break we had Indian, as we found a really nice Indian 100% vegetarian stall in the food court near the hotel (they even had veggie burgers, Indian style!). We ate there twice, and one evening we went to a nice Indian restaurant for a big meal of all the kids' favourite curries and naan bread. It may seem strange to have Indian food in Thailand, but it was easy with the kids who could even order the food by themselves: all Indian caterers spoke English (even in the food court, where most other locals didn't, once I ordered a green curry in the Thai Vegetarian stall and I got... fried noodles!). Of course there is more vegetarian food available, I remember this from when I first visited many years ago, but at that time we travelled there for a few weeks, we didn't have kids, we were young and more adventurous about street food or small hut restaurants by the beach.  For mainstream eateries it may be difficult because fish sauce seems to be averywhere, even in salads. When we visited Ayutthaya (I will write about it later, wonderful place!) we discovered that the area is mostly patronized by Japanese tourists, and we ended up eating from a buffet where the chef informed us that all the food had fish sauce except for the.. vegetarian sushi and vegetable tempura! So lucky that the kids love Japanese food too!




What I have learned after all these years is that the vegetarian traveller has to adapt: yes it was great to have some vegetarian Thai cuisine, but when that wasn't available, well, other cuisines and foods were fine too. Mostly I enjoyed the tropical fruit, and the buzz of being in busy places where people seems to eat at any time of the day or night. We also drunk tons of watermelon juices, and I tasted fresh palm sugar (I saw it being made, I didn't know that it came from the collected nectar of palm' flowers, I wonder if it could be made with the New Zealand Nikau palms too!).

And now, completely off topic but I found this link today and wanted to share the news,  I was happy to learn that Party Food for Girls has won the national rounds of the 2011 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in the Best Children’s and Family Cookbook category (in New Zealand), and apparently Arantxa is the most youthful recipient of the award! To be honest with you I have no idea of how many Children’s and Family Cookbook entries there were in NZ, which is quite a small country after all, nevertheless, it is all great for exposure for us, and it is always lovely to receive and award, so thank you Gourmand!


Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

28 comments:

  1. Love this post it has warmed me up a bit here in France as well. Diane

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  2. alessandra che invidia :-) grazie del reportage

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  3. Ebbene si cara Alessandra, il freddo ancora ci attanaglia e mette neve anche questo venerdì per 2 giorni di seguito. La Toscana innevata è uno spettacolo decisamente fuori dal ogni immaginazione. Ma vedo che ti sei rifugiata in uno dei posti più incantevoli del mondo e sono felice per te, le immagini raccontano la tua gioia.
    Ti abbraccio, Pat

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  4. Alessandra, congratulations! And wonderful post on your food experience in Thailand.

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  5. Mi spiace non averti vista nemmeno sta volta ma..che bel girello ti stai facendo e che timing!Oggi fa quasi "caldo" a MIlano, lo zuccherino prima dell'ennesima gelata ;)Vabbè è inverno, arrivera la primavera :D
    Che delizie vedo potra, la Thainlandia è una delle mete che ho nella wish list!
    Baci

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    Replies
    1. Guarda Saretta, con il 'timing' ci e' andata benissimo, anche perche' e' stata un'estate brutta in NZ e ci siamo persi tutta la pioggia, quindi tutti qui ci hanno detto che abbiamo fatto bene ad andarcene quest'anno! Stai al caldo, mi raccomando!

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  6. intanto complimenti per il bellissimo reportage, che fa proprio venire voglia di partire subito per visitare quei luoghi ed assaggiare i cibi che hai fotografato e descritto...bello davvero questo post.

    per la meve ed il ghiaccio...sinceramente mi pare che qui si esageri: è inverno, è normale che faccia freddo, quando ero piccola la normalità erano almeno 60 cm di neve e si andava ugualmente a scuola...ora fanno una tragedia per nulla, che tristezza....

    bacio [tengo nel cuore le tue parole di offerta, grazie] :)
    Barbara

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    1. ehehehe noi a scuola si andava anche con due metri, ma ero in montagna ed eravamo attrezzati, penso che i problemi li abbiano quelli che non sanno cos'e uno spartineve, o che non hanno mai spalato davanti alla porta di casa la mattina (dopo che e' passato lo spartineve e i metri sono diventati 3 davanti al portone!!! hahahaha), e magari non hanno neppure la pala :-).

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  7. nice post Alessandra look absolutely wonderful!

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  8. Oh my, Thailand must be so beautiful, and the people seem lovely. I'd love to go there someday. Sounds like the food is veggie friendly and that there's a good bit of variety too. Seems like a bit of a paradise. We have a vegetarian Thai restaurant near us that we go to fairly often; it's delicious, and most things are vegan if you leave out the egg.

    I love seeing these places and reading about your travels...a little taste of travel vicariously.

    Congratulations to you and Arantxa on the book award!!!


    C

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    1. Yes they don't really use dairy products so a part from eggs (and I only detected it in one of the sweets and egg fried rice) the vegetarian meals we had were basically vegan :-)

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  9. Sounds like a great trip :) & congrats on the win!

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  10. Che bello venire in viaggio con te, i tuoi reportage sono sempre affascinanti. Complimenti per il libro, un bacione

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  11. Congratulations on your award. Hope you are having a wonderful trip. I haven't travelled overseas since having kids but am just starting to want to again.

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    1. Travel with the kids and you will see a different world! :-)

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  12. Woo hoo! Congratulations Alessandra!!! I'm so happy that your cookbook has been very successful. Sorry for my absence here. I didn't know that you are in Thailand! My brother lives in Koh Tao (tiny island near Koh Samui), but I've only been to Phuket once. Have a safe and fun trip!

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  13. Nami, I think that I have been there, about 16 years ago when i went to Koh Samui, I also visited other small islands... but I cannot remember the names, it was ages ago!

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  14. hai ragione il viaggiatore vegetariano deve adattarsi, ma secondo me nello stesso tempo ha una possibilità in più ..quella di scoprire,scovare qualcosa che altrimenti rimarrebbe nascosto
    un abbraccio

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  15. By the looks of it, you did pretty well finding vege food. My uncle lives in Bangkok so when we go to visit he always has some great places sorted out. I love Bangkok :)

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  16. Congratulations to the both of you on the award!

    You are lucky to have received a great vegetarian feast. A friend of mine was telling me about a meal she had in Vietnam when she asked for a vegetarian meal and trusted the chef make something up with her. She received chopped spring onion between 2 slices of buttered bread. Onion sandwich.

    What's the worst vegetarian meal you've experienced overseas?

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    1. Golly, I'll say! Did she complain? For me, in Vietnam I had some of the most amazing Vegetarian food! Look at this post and scroll to the end: all that amazing food was vegetarian, in fact it was vegan!!!

      http://alessandrazecchini.blogspot.co.nz/search/label/Vietnam

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  17. First of all, compliments to you and Arantxa for the award! I've never been to Thailand yet (with the exception of an hour stopover in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport, flying from Sydney to London), but since I have an interest in the country, and since Thai food is just so amazing, I will save this wonderful post and keep it for future reference. Thanks!

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  18. I love both veg and non veg but veg is better. Beautiful post.

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    There's a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

    My blog post: dieta mediterranea

    ReplyDelete

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