Thai food is filled with lots of flavor. Much of the local Thai cuisine contains a healthy dose of chili peppers. Unfortunately, my palate is not well adjusted and cannot handle too much of a punch. Even the mild versions of dishes make me sweat!
Even so, we really wanted to sample and learn more about Thai cuisine. We also wanted to take a day trip to the old capital city of Ayutthaya located about an hour north of Bangkok. This old town has many historic wats (temples) that have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. The city is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the East because it is surrounded by three rivers (Chao Phraya, Lopbun, and Pa Sak) and the Klong Muang channel. It was also the capital of Thailand until 1767 when the Burmese army invaded and destroyed it causing the Thai king to retreat to Bangkok. We thought it was really worth seeing so we tried to accomplish two things at once by visiting Ayutthaya on a day-long food tour! The tour was the best of both worlds as we stopped at three temples, rode a bamboo raft on the historic rivers and got to taste a healthy set of local foods.
Our first stop in Ayutthaya was at a local restaurant where we enjoyed two different “boat noodle” dishes. Nearly every table in Thailand has a standard set of four condiments: chili powder, sugar, vinegar and fish sauce. We learned that the soup-like broth is a matter of personal taste and can be adjusted at the table to meet your preferred taste. If it is not spicy enough, add chili powder. If it is not salty enough, add fish sauce. If it is too sweet or not sour enough, add vinegar. If it is too spicy, add sugar. I added a healthy dose of sugar to mine!
After finishing our boat noodles, and sampling some fried mushrooms, we made our way across the street to a vendor who was making up a local treat (I think they were called Chaw Muang). The vendor placed batter on a steam-heated surface and then in the center added toppings which can be sweet or savory. She then folded the sides over to form a small dumpling that looks like a flower—the batter was even colored pink, purple, or yellow from local flower petals.
Our guide insisted that we eat the treat like locals do: on a piece of lettuce, topped by a chili-pepper. Against my better judgement, I decided to follow suit and give it a try. Holy moly…was that H-O-T! For about 5-10 minutes I thought that I was going to breathe fire. I even had tears running down my face. It definitely gave our guide a good laugh and I learned quickly that water does not help put out the fire. Sweets work much better and I used another local treat, mung bean candy, and a coke to smother the heat.
Our tour took us to many other places where we tried local sweets, seafood and tasty Thai cuisine. Here’s some of what we sampled:
One of our favorite foods on the day was the Thai cotton candy. We stopped at a local shop that is open 24 hours a day making this delicious treat. They make crepe-like pastries, call Roti, out of wheat flour. We watched as a group of three women made the fluffy crepes. Likewise, two gentleman were in the process of creating the wispy, hair-like candy to place inside the Roti. The men pulled, folded and stretched the candy for about 15 minutes until it simply fell apart into thin strands of sugar. The end result was a delicious, unique treat. We even got to take some with us and enjoyed it for several days after the tour!
All in all it was a delicious day. We thoroughly enjoyed eating our way through the historical city of Ayutthaya!
We booked our tour through Bangkok Food Tours. Give their Ancient Ayutthaya Food Tour a try if you’re interested in seeing the ancient city and tasting food along the way. It’s worth the transportation alone.