Travel notes

Food To Thai For: A Culinary Tour of Chiang Mai

Apr 01, 2018

Chiang Mai is a food paradise. Before you see the street stalls and food carts, you smell them:mu ping(pork skewers),saiua(spiced lemongrass sausage),khaokhamu(stewed pork knuckle over rice). Food is everywhere in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai. According to novelist Deepti Kapoor, you can pick any point on a map of Chiang Mai, go there, and eat something wonderful. Or you can just eat your way from one end of the city to the other.

There’s something surreally communal about food culture in Chiang Mai. Up and own the streets, shop owners set up small gas burners after work and drink cold beer and cook meat. Nondescript neighborhoods turn into thriving food markets. Street chefs serve steaks and oysters out of the back of old pick-up trucks, and it’s not uncommon to see deep fryers attached to motorbikes. In Chiang Mai, everything happens on the streets.

Taking Pleasure in All that You Do

Chiang Mai is close to the Myanmar border and surrounded by hills and jungle. According to Michelin-starred chef Andy Ricker, Chiang Mai’s relatively isolated geography created its unique and vibrant cuisine. Traditional central and southern Thai staples such as coconut milk, palm sugar, and fish sauce, were not available. Instead, people used roots, herbs, and plants from the surrounding jungle, creating spicy meals with distinctly sour, bitter, and pungent notes.