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Same, same, but different

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Asian food is available in western countries, but, says Espen Skålnes, “you won't taste the real thing until you actually visit Asian countries.” Here is his take on real Thai food, in the third story of our series “Thailand through Norwegian eyes” 

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Photo by Lidija Vidić.

Same, same, but different

Espen Skålnes

Bangkok is well known for a fantastic assortment of food. You can find everything from beef steaks to grilled grasshoppers and everything in between. Many dishes have the same name as they have in western restaurants, but when the plate is in front of you, the difference is pretty remarkable.

More spicy than in the west

Thai or Asian food is not unknown to westerners, but you won't taste the real thing until you actually visit Asian countries. You’ll find the food is a lot different from what you get at the local Asian restaurant at home. The spices here are strong, for example, and if your typical westerner orders hot, spicy food in Asia, he or she better be prepared for a lot of sweat and pain. When the food first touches your tongue it may not feel so bad, but after five minutes you should really start to feel the sting. Luckily, a good waiter will often warn you or ask how spicy you want your dish.

The dishes often have some kind of sauce or 'dip' on the plate. It's often sweet and sour or pretty spicy and strong and it adds something extra to the meal. This is not so common when you eat noodle or wok dishes, however. 

Seafood everywhere

Seafood is also a big thing in Bangkok. All restaurants offer a lot of seafood and there are plenty of seafood restaurants as well. Big crabs, squid, prawn, with noodles in soups, all very tasty and something you should try when in Bangkok. Exotic fried fish that you won't find at home are a must to try if you want to experience seafood in Thailand. The squid is recommended!

Edible insects

Something else you won’t find at home but which are readily available on Bangkok streets are fried insects. Grasshoppers, larvae, spiders, scorpions are just some of the many insects you can crunch on in the streets and alleys of Thailand’s capital. The crunchy taste you feel when you put a fried grasshopper in your mouth is something that will stick with you for some time. One of the insects that is pretty easy to eat is the bamboo worm. Many describe it as mushy, nutty and soft, but of course; you’ve got to try it yourself. The particular insects available depend on the season. Scorpions are considered a delicacy as they are hard to find.

Mats Johannesen (23) from Norway tasted a fried spider with some friends, “I found it very juicy and pretty good. The spider was fried in some kind of spice and that's pretty much what I tasted. Better than expected!”

Very different

Although a lot of the food might at first seem to be the same as you can get in any restaurant, it's actually a whole new world when you’re in Bangkok or Asia. The taste is really different and something everybody should try to experience.

Other stories in this series:

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alleyway: a narrow road or path between buildings, or a path in a park or garden, especially with trees or bushes on both sides - ตรอก, ซอย, ซอกซอย

assortment: a collection of different things or of different types of the same thing - ต่าง ๆ นานา

available: that you can get, use, find or buy - มีอยู่, หาได้

capital: the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from - เมืองหลวง

common: ordinary; not unusual or special - ที่เกิดขึ้นทุกวัน, ธรรมดา

consider: to regard as; to think of as - ถือว่า

crab: a sea creature with a hard shell, eight legs and two pincers (= curved and pointed arms for catching and holding things).Crabs move sideways on land. ปู - ปู

crunch: to crush something noisily between your teeth when you are eating - เคี้ยวเสียงดัง

crunchy: firm and crisp and making a sharp sound when you bite or crush it - กรอบ

delicacy: a type of food considered to be very special in a particular place - อาหารอร่อย

depend on: according to; affected by things that happen - ขึ้นอยู่กับ

dip: a sauce made specifically to add flavour to certain foods - น้ำจิ้ม, น้ำปรุงรส

dish: food prepared and cooked in a particular way - อาหาร

edible: fit or suitable to be eaten; not poisonous - ซึ่งกินได้

exotic: interesting or exciting because of being unusual or not familiar - ผิดธรรมดา,ประหลาด

fantastic: extremely good - เยี่ยมยอด, วิเศษ

grasshopper: an insect with long back legs, that can jump very high and that makes a sound with its legs - ตั๊กแตน

grilled: cooked by direct heat, especially under a very hot surface - ย่าง

insect: any small creature with six legs and a body divided into three parts. Insects usually also have wings. Ants, bees and flies are all insects - แมลง, แมง

larva (plural larvae): an insect at the stage when it has just come out of an egg and looks like a short fat worm - ตัวอ่อน,หนอนตัวอ่อน

local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น

meal: the food that you serve or eat at one time - มื้ออาหาร

mushy: soft and thick, like mush - ซึ่งเหลวเละๆ

pain: the feelings that you have in your body when you have been hurt or when you are ill/sick; mental or emotional suffering - ความเจ็บปวด

particular: specific - เฉพาะ, จำเพาะ, โดยเฉพาะ

prawn: a shellfish with ten legs and a long tail, that can be eaten. - กุ้ง

readily: quickly and without difficulty - อย่างไม่ลังเล, อย่างทันทีทันใด

recommended: suggested; saying that something is very good or useful - เป็นที่แนะนำ

remarkable: unusual or special and therefore surprising and worth mentioning - ไม่ธรรมดา

sauce: a liquid food that you put on other foods to give them a particular flavour - น้ำปรุงรส, ซอส

scorpion: a small creature like an insect with eight legs, two front claws (= curved and pointed arms) and a long tail that curves over its back and can give a poisonous sting.Scorpions live in hot countries. - แมงป่อง

season: a period of time during the year - ช่วงเวลา, ระยะเวลา, ฤดูกาล

sour: having a taste like that of a lemon or of fruit that is not ready to eat - เปรี้ยว

spice: one of the various types of powder or seed that come from plants and are used in cooking.Spices have a strong taste and smell - เครื่องเทศ, เครื่องปรุงแต่งรสชาติ

spider: a small creature with eight thin legs. Many spiders spin webs (= nets of thin threads) to catch insects for food - แมงมุม

squid: a sea creature that has a long soft body, eight arms and two tentacles (= long thin parts like arms) around its mouth, and that is sometimes used for food - ปลาหมึก

sting: any sharp pain in your body or mind - ความปวดแสบ, ความเจ็บปวด

sweat: the tiny drops of salty water that form on your skin when you are hot - เหงื่อ

tasty: having a nice flavour or taste - อร่อย

tongue: the soft part in the mouth that moves around, used for tasting, swallowing, speaking, etc - ลิ้น

typical: having the usual qualities or features of a particular type of person, thing or group - เป็นแบบฉบับ, เป็นสัญลักษณ์

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