Bangkok By the Numbers: Family Visit 2008, Early Numerical Status Report

My mom and step-dad arrived in Bangkok yesterday for a visit from the US. Here’s how their visit has shaped up, numbers-wise, so far:

Thai Foot Massages

  • Hour-long Thai foot massages enjoyed in the last 24 hours: 2
  • Combined hours of full-body massages planned for them for tomorrow: 4

    Thai Cuisine Consumed

  • Approximate number of individual Thai dishes we have consumed since they arrived: 13

    Kimchi Consumption Requests Made By Me

  • Times I asked my mom to try the particularly pungent kimchi during dinner at a Korean restaurant tonight: 7
  • Number of times she obliged: 0
  • Plates on our table at one point during said dinner: 19

    Bowls of Lot Chong Devoured

  • Bowls of lot chong (green “worms” made of sticky rice flour in coconut milk) scarfed down at lunch today: 1

    Shopping Achievements

  • Mobile phones purchased at MBK: 1
  • SIM cards purchased from same vendor: 1
  • Value, in Baht, of pre-paid phone card minutes purchased: 200
  • Pairs of eye glasses purchased today: 4
  • Items of clothing currently being constructed for my mom and step-dad by my favorite tailor: 13

    Songkran Soakings

  • Number of times I have been soaked to the skin by Songkran revelers since my mom and step-dad arrived: 1
  • Number of times I was soaked to the skin by Songkran revelers before they arrived: 5
  • Number of times my mom and step dad have been soaked to the skin by Songkran revelers since they arrived: 0
  • Waffle-Coated Hot Dog: Consumed in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

    Remember the french fry-coated hot dog that I photographed in Seoul a while back? I mean, seriously, given the international acclaim that followed, how could you forget?


    Well, in my ongoing quest to identify and consume hot dogs encrusted in all manner of incongruous snack foods, I bring you the waffle-coated hot dog.

    The Waffle-Coated Hot Dog

    In a feat of observation that would make Austin proud, I recently spotted — and subsequently scarfed down, lest I fail in my mission — this remarkably-executed example of Euro/American-Thai culinary fusion at a night market in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

    The Waffle-Coated Hot Dog

    Waffle-Coated Hot Dogs

    Waffle-Coated Hot Dog: the Chefs in Action

    Per the vendor’s recommendation, I applied ketchup. The result was a flavor profile not commonly encountered in the west: The dish was doughy and sweet from the waffle, meaty and nitrate-infused due to the hot dog, and acidic from the ketchup.

    After finishing my snack, I thanked the vendor — the man in the photo above — and asked him what this particular treat was called. He looked at me blankly, turned to his companions, and then took a deep breath. “Waffle…hot dog,” he said.

    There you have it. The international language of snack foods, my friends.

    LINK LOVE UPDATE, Dec. 16: The Thai waffle-coated hot dog, I’m happy to say, has struck a chord with lovers of silly foodstuffs the world over. It’s been featured on the following fine blogs: Coudal.com’s Fresh Signals, The Food Section, SuperSizedMeals.com, and Blog on a Toothpick.

    Passers-by Purloin Protest Papayas

    Bangkok Post:

    Greenpeace’s protest against the lifting of a ban on open-field trials of genetically-modified (GM) papaya yesterday was met with an unexpected reaction from a crowd of onlookers.

    Passers-by took matters, and tonnes of papayas dumped by Greenpeace, into their own hands, and ran off.

    The environmental group dumped the papayas in front of the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry yesterday to make its objection to the lifting of the ban loud and clear to the government.

    It was the second protest about the controversial issue in five days after reports the ministry will today seek cabinet approval for the lifting of the ban on open-field trials of transgenic crops.

    But this time, after the dumping, people flocked to load up on the free papayas, ignoring the environmental organisation’s campaign against the dangers of GM fruit — a message Greenpeace has been trying to get through to the government and the public for years.

    Many passers-by, who mostly knew nothing about transgenic fruit, said they did not care about any health risks.

    They were just thinking about how hungry they were.

    ”I don’t care if they’re dangerous,” said papaya salad seller Gig Krueyat, 70. ”I don’t know what the threat is … nothing serious, I think …”

    Mrs Gig helped herself to three sacks of the fruit in minutes. Others, including some ministry officials and Rasi Salai dam protesters from Sri Sa Ket province who were camped near the ministry, also did not let the opportunity slip by.

    A man waiting in traffic for the lights to go green near the ministry, leapt out of his car and joined the feast.

    ”I’m not scared of GM papayas. Rather, I’m scared I won’t have any to eat,” said Ubon Ratchathani villager Ampon Tantima, 31, before rushing back to his car with the free fruit….

    Restaurant Mascot Autocannibalism

    The Suicide Food blog:

    What is Suicide Food? Suicide Food is any depiction of animals that act as though they wish to be consumed. Suicide Food actively participates in or celebrates its own demise. Suicide Food identifies with the oppressor. Suicide Food is a bellwether of our decadent society. Suicide Food says, “Hey! Come on! Eating meat is without any ethical ramifications! See, Mr. Greenjeans? The animals aren’t complaining! So what’s your problem?” Suicide Food is not funny.

    (Via.)

    Thaksin to Buy Man City?

    Is Thailand’s ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra aiming to snap up English football club Manchester City?

    IHT/AP:

    Toppled Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra, who earlier made an unsuccessful bid for Liverpool, is planning to buy another English soccer club, according to a Web site close to Thaksin seen Monday.

    The site — http://www.hi-thaksin.net — said that the former prime minister was ready to pay more than 6 billion baht (US$185 million; €136 million) for the Manchester City Football Club with partners from China and the Middle East.

    Nopadol Pattama, Thaksin’s lawyer and de facto spokesman in Thailand, said he had read about the bid on the Web site but had not yet had time to ask Thaksin about it.

    Thaksin, one of the country’s richest people, was toppled in a bloodless military coup last September following months of mass street protests accusing him of massive corruption and abuse of power. He has since been spending time at his home in London and traveling in Europe and Asia.

    In 2004, the then-prime minister made an unsuccessful attempt to buy Liverpool and had also reportedly expressed interest in acquiring other English soccer clubs.

    Note: Perhaps Everton FC would be a better fit, given the club’s prominent Beer Chang advertising partnership.

    Nalgene Lantern Gadget


    The Firefly:

    The Firefly, Invented by Eric Goldfarb is a unique design which turns your bottle into a lantern. The Firefly’s unique design allows it to be used right side up, upside down, or hanging from the nearest handy branch.

    Related:

    Message in a Bottle

    H2Oh No! (Don’t miss the comments.)

    Nalgene Bottles Inscribed with Foreign Language Cheat Sheets

    Korean French Fry-Encrusted Corn Dog Linklove

    Quick note: I just discovered that the (now infamous) Korean french fry-encrusted corn dogs have been featured on SupersizedMeals.com and CityRag.

    In other news, a couple folks have emailed to see if I’m okay after the landslide in the Philippines. Not to worry. I’m still here in Taiwan.

    More photos soon. I promise.

    Ecuadorian Soup in The New Yorker

    In the rare instances when news from Ecuador trickles into the American media, it usually involves strife: another democratically-elected president outsted, indigenous protesters railing against oil companies, etc.

    So you can imagine my surprise when my grandmother* recently handed me this week’s New Yorker magazine and said “hey, there’s an article about Ecuador in here.” What’s more, if you have even limited experience with Ecuadorian cuisine, you’ll understand the improbability of this particular article appearing in their annual food issue. And, in one last counter-intutitive twist, the piece actually speaks favorably about the vittles at latitude zero.

    The article’s by Calvin Trillin and it’s called “Speaking of Soup.” It’s funny and poignant: Trillin traveled to Cuenca, Ecuador (the city in which I lived for a year) to brush up on his Spanish and undertake a quest to consume numerous bowls of the traditional Ecuadorian soup called fanesca (a dish which, it pains me to say, I’m sure I’ve eaten but simply cannot remember).

    Again, the article’s great, but here’re some passages that rang hollow for me:

    …All the vegetables and spices required—corn, for instance, and fava beans and a couple of kinds of squash—grow in the area, and some of them apparently don’t make it as far as Guayaquil, which is only thirty minutes away by air. That may be because the distribution system seems to consist largely of indigenous women who come to the market from the countryside, many of them in the bright-colored flared skirts and high-crowned panama hats that can make even a small woman of some years look rather, well, zippy.

    (Emphasis mine.) I have to take issue with this last sentence. I’m afraid what we’re seeing from Trillin is a bit of travel writing romanticization. Indigenous women in Ecuador are largely destitute and over-worked and often in ill-health. I have never seen an older indigenous woman look anything close to “zippy,” no matter how colorful her dress.

    Also, there’s this:

    …We also had long conversations about humitas, which have some resemblance to tamales. Instead of being dough around some central element like pork or chicken, though, humitas are the same all the way through—an astonishingly light concoction of fresh young corn that is ground and mixed with eggs and cheese and butter and anise and a bit of sugar.

    Trillin must have tasted humitas that were an order of magnitude better than any of the sort that I ever ingested.

    I have particularly vivid memories of a student of mine who once made me a bundle of humitas; she gave them to me after class and I ate them before getting on a five-hour bus ride. They did not settle well. I cut my journey short, checked into a hotel in Loja, and was subsequently wracked by vomiting and diarrhea for twelve long hours.

    I ran out of water to drink and, bleary-eyed and weak-legged, made my way out into the street the next morning to find some refreshments. Not half a block from the hotel, a young girl on a fire escape above me dumped a bucket of water on my head. (Ecuadorians douse each other with water in the weeks preceeding carnaval.)

    Long story short, when I think of humitas, the words “an astonishingly light concoction of fresh young corn that is ground and mixed with eggs and cheese and butter and anise and a bit of sugar” do not exactly come to mind.

    That said, feel like making your own fanesca (the soup Trillin raves about)? Here’s a recipe. And if you’re a Spanish reader, here’s one from an Ecuadorian newspaper.

    [*My eighty-five-year-old grandmother, Rosina, lives here in the DC area; I often go see her and we have lunch together. She gives me her old Econmist and New Yorker issues which, because she’s a news junkie and has a lot of time on her hands, she usually devours the same day they arrive in the mail. Not only is she more well-versed in current events than anyone I know, but she also pays her bills online is an avid emailer. In short, she kicks ass.]

    fanesca, Calvin+Trillin, New+Yorker