Sunday, February 21, 2010

Some Thai Food

Thailand is one of the truly great food countries in this world of ours. The 28 cent meat on a stick from a street vendor for breakfast; the $4 Chinese feast happily devoured by the only white guy in a hole-in-the-wall in the coolest Chinatown going; the Laotian smorgasbord for dinner last night. Thailand — and especially Bangkok — is food heaven.

So, why, on the afternoon of my last day in country, am I penning my travel memoirs over a $4 Big Mac Set at McDonald's? It's definitely not that I'm sick of Thai food. I was sick of Indian food after two weeks there, but with apologies to my Hindu friends, Thailand is simply a superior food destination, with more tasty culinary diversity in a much smaller country. So why am I here? You got it. It's the ambiance! Attached to the Westin Grand Sukhumvit on Soi 19, my delightfully bright red corner booth overlooks the chaos of swanky Sukhumvit Road. The air-conditioning slowly allows my shirt to dry after a day of touring through the capital on foot. The music is of the Thai elevator variety, but it's really quite soothing.

Bangkok isn't the only place where Mickey D's provides an oasis for a weary American. McDonald's is by far the cleanest, friendliest, and overall nicest place in all of Athens, Greece, for example. In addition to the creature comforts, the ubiquity of McDonald's is reassurance of the continued dominance of American culture around the world. Those golden arches in their legion in every corner of the globe remind the world that we're still here, we're still loud, and you still frickin' love us!

I mean, sure, sitting on the floor at Vientiane Kitchen was more authentic. But then again, with all due respect, authentic Lao would probably be sitting on the shit-covered floor of a mud hut eating a bowl of rice. This clean, comfortable booth all to myself is authentic American - and it's wonderful!

But here we are after two weeks in one of my favorite countries. Over the next several episodes we'll discuss food, of course, but also elephants and roosters; Buddha; the most dangerous activity in Thailand; language; friendliness and sleaze; Thai massage and Thai "massaaaaage"; boys, girls, and that 3rd kind unique to Thailand; martial arts; dung; sweat; and the remarkable transformation of Bangkok from grimy, sleaze capital of the world to kickass cosmopolitan destination. Stay tuned!


Phutatorius said...

McDonald's been pretty consistent, wherever I've gone. Can't say the same for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Tried it in Scotland, and it was more like Kilkenny Poached Pigeon.

Mithridates said...

You've never had the Chicken Maharaja King in India - absolutely wretched. Not to mention you can't help but wonder if that little bit of water from that tiny piece of lettuce is going to make you violently ill for a week.

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