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Condom Salads and More in Bangkok

'Scuse me, waiter, but there seems to be a rubber in my salad.
'Scuse me, waiter, but there seems to be a rubber in my salad.
Photo by Riki Altman

Editor's note: In a three-part series, intrepid Short Order writer Riki Altman will share the good, bad, silly, remarkable, and entirely inedible highlights of a recent trip to Thailand.

Thanks to an incredibly kind offer from the folks at the Thai Trade Center in Miami, I traveled for a week to Bangkok, coinciding with the annual THAIFEX World of Food Asia show (and, strangely enough, the premiere of The Hangover Part IIwhich was set in that very city). While there, I saw whacky ways to serve fish (trick the kids!), more seaweed than I ever thought existed, new products I never would've imagined, and incredibly intricate fruit carvings.

The journey also included visits to the best street-side pad thai place, markets on railroad tracks and on the water, the processing plant where all of the canned tuna we eat comes from (I promise to tell you which brand is best and why), and a lesson at the world-famous Blue Elephant Restaurant and Cooking School.

I also visited grand palaces, watched a cobra fight a mongoose, and partook of a few of those $30 Thai massages, but that's for another blog. Oh, and before you ask, yes, I did see a Ping-Pong show and, no, I did not take pictures. (I'm a food writer, for goodness' sake!) Let's stick to the eats, shall we?

First, let's start with the condom salad.

Condom Salads and More in Bangkok
Photo by Riki Altman

Before you get entirely grossed out, those little "condoms" are actually rolled-up glass noodles. It turns out there's a chain of restaurants called Cabbages & Condoms, supported by Thailand's Population and Community Development Association (yes, that would be "PDA"). Created in an effort to make discussions about birth control more, uh, palatable for the general population, these eateries look mostly innocent at first, but then the wall décor is a collection of packaged condoms, and random condom-clad mannequins are placed throughout.

Condom Salads and More in Bangkok
Photo by Riki Altman

But as for this creamy sauce, well, I'm not quite sure what that comprised. Any guesses?

Condom Salads and More in Bangkok
Photo by Riki Altman

Looks like she was dressed appropriately for a visit. OK, so in other news...

Condom Salads and More in Bangkok
Photo by Riki Altman

Here's the place that Jessica Simpson probably would go for her morning coffee.

Condom Salads and More in Bangkok
Photo by Riki Altman

And here's a snack that would make her toss her biscotti. Yep, those are frogs.

Condom Salads and More in Bangkok
Photo by Riki Altman

Of course, we Americans can always count on McDonald's for recognizable eats, right? But is this something anyone would truly crave?

Condom Salads and More in Bangkok
Photo by Riki Altman

Another food item that was a bit foreign to my American palate was shark fin soup, like that sold at this kiosk in a mall. I'm a big fan of sharks, so I refused to try it, though I hear it's actually pretty tasty.

Condom Salads and More in Bangkok
Photo by Riki Altman

And then here's something from the Bangkok Post:

Before you freak out, perhaps you should be informed that the word poo actually means "crab."

Tomorrow we'll go on a photo journey through the THAIFEX food fair and more. Stay hungry, my friends.

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