Dining in Chiang Mai, Thailand vs. North America
Foreigners love their hamburgers, French fries, soft drinks and Thai’s just have to have rice with every meal. But which would I prefer after living most of my life in Canada and now having retired to Chiang Mai, Thailand? As with any large city there are an abundance of fine restaurants catering to different tastes and budgets. Chiang Mai is no different. Thai people love to eat. Restaurants are full of Thai’s and foreigners enjoying all types of cuisine. Rather than deal with fine restaurants which we all dine at but not every day this article deals with the day to day dining of the Thai people here in Chiang Mai.
Popular restaurants in North America are Harvey’s, McDonalds, and Burger King. Here we have the street vendors. The end result is a quickly prepared affordable meal. The street vendors may sell fresh fruits such as pineapple, mango, watermelon, strawberries (locally grown), and more. Each fruit is cut up into small pieces and placed in a plastic bag and you are provided a long wooden stick with which to eat it.
Cost is normally 10 baht which comes to about 25 cents U. and the fruits are kept cool and are delicious. Also vendors here sell fast foods and snacks. Get a meal of cooked rice, meat and veggies again placed in a plastic bag but this time wrapped tightly by an elastic band for about 20 baht or 50 cents U. Take your pick of a rice dish, or a noodle dish or a soup. Tasty and normally already prepared and wrapped and still warm or if you want to wait one minute they will take it out of the pot and put it into the bag while you wait. So a cooked meal and a tasty snack for a total of about 75 cents U. For many Thai’s in Chiang Mai this is there most common meal. They then proceed to drive home, unwrap the elastic, put some rice in a bowl, place several cups of the table with a bottle of water and that is one of their meals. We all love fast foods and we all want it to be affordable. That we have in common. What you will find different between here and there is the price, quality and service. Price. The price of meals whether it be at restaurants, or street vendors is cheap compared to what we are used to. A filling meal can be had for less than a 1US dollar for a meal I described above which includes a bowl of rice, cooked meal from street vendor and fruit from street vendor. For only $2.50 U.
you can dine out at an all you can eat full course buffet, desserts, coffee, tip and taxes included as well as a tip for the parking lot attendant The prices are low because the ingredients are locally grown and because the labor cost is inexpensive. Quality. The quality of the food is much healthier here than back home. Back home KFC, McDonalds, and Harvey’s are popular lunch and dinner restaurants. If you think you are thinking healthy foods there think again. Here you do not have the greasy French fries, Hamburgers stuffed full of ketchup, mustard, onions, mayo and more to hide the taste of the meat you are eating. Here you eat rice, fresh vegetables, fresh fish, drink water with the meals as opposed to a bucket sized plastic container packed full of ice and watered down sugar flavored soft drink. Service. A teenager earning a few extra bucks in a fast food restaurant or an adult making a living out of working full time in a restaurant here.
Which one would you expect to provide the best service? Nothing more needs to be said. If you come to Chiang Mai do not go searching for restaurants that have what you normally eat. You may as well stay home and buy a video about Thailand, or watch a TV program about Thailand. The foods here are tasty, healthy, and inexpensive. The basic ingredient in all the meals is rice. Yes rice for breakfast too. I have never been one for rice. Potatoes was my staple. But here potatoes are pricey and although I admit to buying them and making potato soup and french fries it is the exception and not the rule.
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