I recently had the luxury of taking part in A Taste Of Thailand walking tour. I simply can NOT say enough good things about this company!
It is a well known fact that I love food. I especially love learning about different types of food and what goes into different meals. I have found that as a celiac and a person with food allergies, I have to be much more conscious of the ingredients in dishes. Gone is my ability to just put anything into my mouth without repercussions. So instead of getting irritated by my need to learn about ingredients I have actually come to enjoy learning about the origin or the makings of different dishes.
I took a Thai cooking class while I was in Krabi about a month and a half ago and it sparked my interest in learning about the ingredients of Thai food even more. When the instructor of a Zumba class I recently took emailed me about a discount she was offering for this tour company that she couldn’t speak highly enough about, Taste of Thailand Food Tours, I jumped at the opportunity and roped some friends along with me.
First, the guides for the tour were Jacob, a man from Texas, and Pu, a Bangkok native with exceptional English skills. They were such a dynamic duo. They blew me out of the water with their knowledge of Thai food and the history of the area and origin of dishes and ingredients. Tour leaders can sometimes be pretty stuffy and scripted and this was anything but! Bonus! We were their very first paid tour and if they didn’t tell us we would have had no idea!
The tour began in the historical Bang Rak neighborhood of Bangkok. “Bang” means village and “Rak” means love in Thai so it literally means the village of love. And man did I love the food and the community! It is said that you can tell that a Thai man or woman is serious about a relationship with you if he takes you to Bang Rak! This was a perfect area for the tour to begin for a few reasons. First, it is one of the oldest remaining neighborhoods in Bangkok. It has a very authentic Thai feel and contains one of the last remaining “throkes” in Bangkok. A “throke”, as are lovely guides informed us, are small neighborhoods that form on alleys or very small side streets. This one happened to have been formed around a very old theater that unfortunately closed it’s doors for the last time about a year ago. This neighborhood was one of the neatest parts about the tour. Seeing a very authentic area, it really was like stepping back in time, except everyone had televisions and cell phones.
Bang Rak also happens to be right off a stop on Bangkok’s public transportation service (BTS) making it even better! Simple travel is hard to come by sometimes in Bangkok.
I don’t want to give away all the secrets of the tour but we did stop at a woman’s shop who makes curry. This was a major stop for me! After the cooking class I became infatuated with how food stands and small restaurants were able to offer curry every day! It took 20 minutes for me to make enough curry paste for even one serving. As you can see in the photo below she makes A LOT of curry paste EVERY DAY! The guide said, she is certainly someone you wouldn’t want to get into a fight with. Meaning, she pounds all those ingredients all night long so her arms are basically made of steal! Apparently local businesses and restaurants purchase the curry paste from her, this was a BIG aha! moment for me.
One of the best aspects of this tour company was how community focused, natural, and respectful they were of the local cultures and communities. They would constantly explain when it was appropriate to take photos and when it wasn’t and where to stand to be out of the way of workers.
I have so many favorites parts of this tour it is hard to pick just a few to focus on.
1) The Fruit Class
We stopped at a fruit stand to sample and learn about the unique fruits of Thailand. This was crazy interesting and super informational! I even found a new favorite! I can’t remember what it’s called though… So I may just have to go on the tour again!
2) The Dessert Shop
It was one of the first shops specifically tailored to desserts. We sampled quite the array of goods! Including coconut sticky rice with a sweet, sugary substance on top that had the surprising flavor of dried shrimp. I did not ask for seconds on that one! One of the craziest and coolest things I learned on the tour was that a lot of Thai desserts and other products in Thailand that are made from egg are sometimes actually duck eggs! Super interesting! I’ve been having much more mild reactions to eggs here so this could be the root of that! Maybe I’m not allergic to duck eggs!
3) The Cultural Tidbits
From visiting the shop where ‘Healthy Boy Brand’ soy sauces originated, to visiting an authentic untouristed temple with authentic teak wood throughout; the cultural elements really enhanced the whole experience and brought it to the next level. We even learned about culture surrounding food! From esan to royal Thai food, there’s so much out there to explore and devour!
This tour went above and beyond anything I could have ever dreamed. They were insanely accommodating with my allergies and if that wasn’t enough they also had a veggie in our group to accommodate as well and they struck it out of the park!
Personally, I always struggle with any event that involves a meal that I can’t control. When traveling that happens rather often, I always pick up snacks ahead of time or accept that I may be extra hungry for part of the day; I’ve eaten plain white rice quite a few times here, for me, it’s better than a stomach ache and a date with a less than appealing toilet. Putting that struggle and trust into this company took a lot of faith and I can say that they did their absolute best to be knowledgable about the foods they offered.
The cost was so worth it ($35 USD) and I hope I can find some other friends to go again! Bravo! If you’re ever in the Bangkok area check them out! Call me if you need a friend to go with you!
Side Note: I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Canon EOS m for food shots 🙂 I’m still getting the hang of landscapes and other shots but I have finally mastered up close stuff! I can’t thank my friends enough for that wonderful gift! i think of each and every one of you when i use it!
Have you ever been on a food tour? How was your experience? Any recommendations around SoutheastAsia?