Thailand

Chiang Mai, a blissful state of food.

As I mentioned in my last blog, Chiang Mai is a welcoming city for vegetarians and vegans.  There are tons of vegetarian restaurants and street food options.   Believe it or not, for those inclined to opt out of eating mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, arachnids (spiders and scorpions), or insects, there are lots of choices to fuel your body and brain.

We were fortunate to find good food options in India and Sri Lanka. Bangkok was a slightly rude awakening but after some time and detective work we did okay. I am developing a heightened interested in food on our journey. Of course I have always tried to be mindful and thoughtful about what I eat. I have been a vegetarian since 1993. One of my roommates at the time suggested I read Diet for a New America and it was a game changer. I never looked back. I have tried raw diets, juicing fasts, vegan, and various other “spiritual” and “healthy” food experiments. But now, outside of our usual choices we have at home, as we travel in different countries we can’t rely on the familiar.  (I do miss Willows, Hermanos, Dos Amigos, and Live Juice!)  We are left to explore the different fruits and vegetables that are available in the grocery stores and in local markets.  The meals at restaurants that we are not familiar with.  This is fun and exciting sometimes and exhausting at other times.  Often what we get is not quite what we expected.  I great way to help us grow our “be flexible” skill.   As long as it’s vegetarian we generally will try it.  We have taken cooking classes in each country so far and hope to be able to continue to do that with each new country we visit. We are learning options for new ways to think about and cook at home. David did most of our cooking at home and even delivered home cooked lunches to me at work. So, now I am growing my skills and learning about spices and how a little of this or a little of that can really change the flavor.

In our Thai Vegetarian Cooking class we learned about the 4 tastes almost always present in thai food. The 4 “S’s” are spicy, sour, sweet, and salty. Spicy; use of chilis. Sour; use of vinegar, lime juice, or tamarind paste. Sweet; use of sugar. Salty; use of salt, soy sauce, mushroom sauce, or miso.  Our cooking teacher brought us to the vegetable market and showed us comparisons of things and recommendations on what to buy.  She gave us suggestions of how to cut up vegetables with easy ways to make the appearance more interesting and exciting.  We made pastes, sauces, soups, curries, pad thai, spring rolls, mango banana sticky rice, and so much more!  My favorite part of the class was our teachers energetic friendly attitude.  I can still hear her saying nit noy, nit noy….(little bit, little bit).

I never knew spring rolls could be so easy!
I love mango sticky rice!

Just in case you are considering a visit to Chiang Mai, here is a list of some of the vegetarian and vegan restaurants I visited. All of them were great and very affordable.  There are so many others that I didn’t get to try because we wanted to cook at home some and try out our new skills we learned.

Morning Glory Thai Vegetarian Restaurant and Cooking Classes.
One of my favorite. Ate here a few times and this is where we took a 5 hour cooking class that was great! Located in the old city on the southeast section. Really good prices.

A Taste From Heaven Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant.
Located in the old city on the east side.

Blue Diamond
They advertise as a vegetarian/vegan restaurant but do serve some meat. Extensive menu that does seem mostly veg/vegan. Located in the old city on the northeast side.

Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant
The Anchan Flower is also known as the Butterfly Pea Flower. I had their special Pad Thai Anchan Noodles. Made special by the purple color of the Anchan flower. Looked very cool and tasted great! Located outside the old city off of Nimmanahaeminda Road.

ImmAim Vegetarian and Bike Café.
Located outside the old city – just a little north of it.

Reform Kafe Vegan Food.
Located in the old city on the north side.

Fuang Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant
Located in the old city on the north side.

Free Bird Café.
Eat here while supporting a ccommunity language and arts program for refugees! Ate here a couple times. The chia seed french toast stuffed with peanut butter, bananas, and figs was out of this world! Located just outside of the old city on the other side of the north moat.

The most amazing french toast ever!

Food Court at Maya Mall (outside Rimbing Supermarket) https://www.facebook.com/maya.chiangmai/. One vendor sells only vegan food. Very low cost, tasty, and she is extremely friendly. Always smiling. Maya mall is located outside the old city, northwest of it.

By Hand Pizza Café https://www.facebook.com/byhandcafe/?ref=hl. Not only veg/vegan but has good options and a separate vegan menu. Great pizza!

Great wood fired pizza!

Salsa Kitchen http://www.thesalsakitchen.com. Great selection of vegetarian meals. They do have meat but the menu is very welcoming to vegetarians. Really good Mexican food!

We head to Vietnam next.  Not sure what the food and vegetarian options will be like there.  But if there’s a kitchen in the places we stay then I will be practicing my cooking skills and looking for a Vietnamese cooking class!  Hope you will all visit once I am home for some “country” cooking!  ; )