Sweet & Savory

Creamed corn, yes … but CORNED ICE CREAM?!

A recent article about how American food makers have adapted their snacks to suit the palates of overseas eaters reminded me of one of my favorite things about life in Thailand.

When we first visited Thailand in 2006, we were delighted with the wide variety of (to us) new and interesting snacks to be had. We had our fill of these strange but tasty treats, and then – like Marco Polo bringing pasta back to Italy from China – loaded up a suitcase with as much as we could to bring home to share with friends and family!

Thai Local Style Chips

Now that we are living here, we continue to enjoy the offerings found on the shelves of local markets. Of course, there are the “homegrown” snacks that may be found primarily in Thailand or Asia, but which you usually don’t find at Safeway or Costco. Treats such as fried bugs, juicy grubs, muu-ping, and khaoneaw dum (sweet purple rice baked in a segment of bamboo). Then there are the “local” brands of chips, nuts, and other savory snacks and assorted sweets including cookies, ice cream, sticky-rice-and-mango and the world’s best banana chips! Finally, we come to the subject of the afore-mentioned article: big American name brand snacks – with a decidedly “foreign” twist.

Sweet Basil Chips

Peking Duck Chips

Ron and Drake are primarily “salties” while Cissy and Elli tend to be “sweeties.” So you can usually find a combination of savory and sweet snacks in our “snack drawer” at home. Of course, all of us like ice cream. Unfortunately, Thai ice cream has not yet evolved to the level of even the “store brand” standard found in America. Think “frozen styrofoam.” In any event, you’ll not find our family favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream in any supermarket or grocery in Chiang Mai. But if you have a hankering for corn in your ice cream, you’re in luck!

Hot & Spicy Crab Chips

Nori Seaweed Chips

I think the Thais are ahead of the rest though when it comes to things like “man faràng” (potato chips). The sheer variety far outpaces the choices back home. And it seems like they are coming out with a new flavor almost every other month. Steak-and-Lobster, Peking Duck, Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Seaweed, Sweet Basil, Hot and Spicy Crab, and on and on. These come in both the “local” brands as well as international brands such as Lays.

Lobster Chips

Bacon & Seaweed Chips

Cookies, too, come in a wide assortment of flavors. For instance, the venerable Oreo can be found in regular, strawberry, blueberry, peanut butter, and chocolate varieties.

Blueberry Oreos

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Oreos

Thai “pretzels”

Of course no place is perfect. Thailand is not a haven for pretzel lovers. There are big, soft pretzels available at some of the shopping malls, and if you look hard enough, you can find the occasional bag of skinny little pretzel sticks that have made the long and stale journey from the American heartland. But don’t set your heart on a big, hard, jaw-breaking salty pretzel. For that, you’ll have to visit the Keystone State! And if you crave chocolate, your best bet is to wait until a visitor from home or a returning missionary brings you some fresh Hershey’s or other brand from the U.S. Otherwise, you’ll be eating something that came via “slow boat” if you catch my drift.

Ah, I bet they have pretzels in heaven. (Probably chocolate-covered ones!)

Khaoneaw dum – sweet purple rice baked in a segment of bamboo.

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