Thailand takes nutrition to a whole new level.
Maggots, frogs, rats, grasshoppers, ant eggs and pig skin snacks can test just how much of a caveman you really are!
There are many nutritious bush foods to be found in the forest, as some of my Issan friends have shown me. The depletion of the forest concerns them as their villages are forced to buy more and more factory made food.
Globalisation and mass production takes over.
The fish are dying in the streams as the fields get bigger and the forests smaller.
At some point in our future I fear that we will need this knowledge of native food, to eat and for medicinal purposes. I am desperate to find out more.
Last week I found a lady I did not know, picking plants out of my garden.
I said Sawadee Ka and she showed me the ferns in her hand and said aroi aroi (delicious). So I went over and asked if I could eat it raw. She said yes. I had a try and it was really sweet and crunchy with no hint of bitterness. I asked her how to cook it and off I went to pick some. Anything green and edible is good. The kids ate it amongst their regular salad leaves and never knew the difference.
This isn’t the first time it has happened. I have had women taking young leaves from the mango and tamarind trees in the front of the garden. I have even had them in my muddy ponds clutching for wriggly tadpoles. Apparently everything tastes aroi when you put chili on it in Thailand.
Food means different things to different people. For some of us, we just take what we can get, as fast as we can get. Eat on the run.
For others it is about taking the time, to make and get to know the food we eat.For some it is a constant struggle to even find nourishment.
I have had the pleasure of living in a few different countries for longer periods of time, like Japan for instance, where I went for one year and gained 13 kilos! Needless to say Japanese food is delicious.
Sugar in almost everything, so one must be very careful.
I have also experienced food in India, Germany, Ireland(where I had my first job as a chef), Thailand and of course Australia.
Germany is, by far, the most difficult place to stick to a gluten, dairy and sugar free diet , with it’s delicious breads, butter, cheeses and sausages. Hmm, is that my belly grumbling?
The easiest place to stay healthy so far was Australia. Mainly because of their awareness of food and cuisine, the immense diversity of cultures and therefore food , and the prominence of grass fed animals.
But Thailand is growing in this area as we look to different and more affordable foods for nutrition. For example, Bug Flour is becoming more and more popular. It is high in protein and far less detrimental to the natural environment compared to animals and grains. It may just be the way of the future and the technology is improving.
Pig skin hanging out to dry before being deep fried in palm oil and sold at the market – A Northern Thai delicacy.
A delicious selection of insects – Bon Appetit!