When your life’s work and passion is food, culinary inspiration is always a major part of every trip abroad. Savoury City’s Donna Wadsworth’s and Blaine Arnot’s epic trip to Thailand was certainly no exception! Having just arrived back in Vancouver after eating their way through this land of spices and flavour, we simply had to sit down with Donna to get the scoop on their gastronomic grand tour!
Chris: Let’s start at the beginning! Where did you and Blaine first land?
Donna : Well, we landed in Bangkok, and literally hit the ground running! We made a pact that we wouldn’t go to any restaurants–only authentic street food. I’d never been to Bangkok before, but we situated ourselves at a hotel that was walking distance to most places we wanted to go.
Chris: What were your first impressions?
Donna : Well, it appears that Bangkok has changed a lot in the last decade or so. Many of the street vendors have moved into mega malls, which the Thai’s like because it allows them to get out of the heat! These malls are massive! We were close to Terminal 21 and Paragon, which had huge food courts.
Chris: What was your food of choice at the mega mall?
Donna : We tasted virtually every kind of Green Papaya Salad ! We tried it all: from plain to ones with shrimp, little baby crabs, to prawns! We kept upping our chili level, but according to the locals we never made it beyond Kindergarten level! And we love spice! Some of those higher-level spice dishes can really mess you up!
Chris: I think Kindergarten level is higher than I would have made it! What other culinary adventures did you have while in Bangkok?
Donna : We were just out looking for everything we could find! I really wanted to have authentic Boat Noodles, so we went to the areas where these are traditionally made.
Chris: In what area are these Boat Noodles found?
Donna : The noodles used to be widely sold at floating markets. Back in the day, Bangkok used to be like Venice of the East, but now most of the canals have been paved over and made into roads, so it’s harder to find these markets now. However, we did get to one that still sells the traditional Boat Noodles thickened with blood! Of course, as a tourist, they don’t give you the blood unless you ask for it.
Chris: Wow! And how did that go?
Donna : Let’s just say that we got a lot of looks, as there were no tourists there at all! We found out that they serve these noodles Dim Sum style–they tally up the bowls you eat. Some locals had up to 30 bowls! The noodles were outstanding! I think we ate every bowl!
Chris: So you went from the mega malls to the floating markets. Where to next?
Donna : I’d say we went from street food to Alley food! It was a real adventure! There was everything you could imagine there–bits of gizzard, spleen, lung, live insects. I’ll be honest, I didn’t try most of those. I draw the line at live insects!
Chris: Fair enough! What would you say were the culinary highlights during your stay in Bangkok?
Donna : I have to say, my top picks would be the Pad Thai, the many versions of Tom Yum–I was addicted to it! Perhaps my favourite dish was what they call Pad Krapow. It’s a staple in Thai cuisine. It’s a stir fry, usually done with very finely minced chicken or pork with just a few chilis and garlic and served with rice. It was just outstanding! Gorgeous and simple, bursting with flavour!
Chris: I think I need to check out Bangkok now! The food sounds amazing! Can we talk about the next leg of your journey?
To be continued…