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Anti-government protesters bring savory southern Thai dishes to Bangkok

Protester in Bangkok
Protester in Bangkok
Photo by Ed Wray/Getty Images

Bangkok, Thailand may never be the same when it comes to food. In late January, protesters pressuring the current Prime Minister to resign, have invaded the capital streets with saucy, fiery and pungent southern Thai food, not common to the region.

Supporters of the lead protester, Suthep Thaugsuban, plan to remain blocking road intersections until the so-called ‘tyrant government is deposed.’ Despite the pandemonium in the streets, Thaugsuban has main rally sites set up by volunteers, mostly people connected to the leader, with a “Southern Kitchen.” Authentic fare from the South is a mix of Indian, Chinese and Indonesian recipes.

Thai cuisine differs from region to region. There are four regions that include:

  • Northern
  • Northeastern
  • Central
  • Southern

Southern Thai food

Southern Thai cuisine gets its pungency and spiciness from Indian spices. The region, with a history being a spice hub for those passing through, uses fresh local herbs, nuts including the local grown cashew and plenty of turmeric. It is no way a simple cuisine. Southern Thai fare is complex with a multitude of bursting flavors and texture. With a dance of three or four taste senses, the food may be salty yet sweet, sour and bitter. Texture may be smooth or crunchy, depending on the dish. Rice is always a staple but many intricate sauces and condiments are used to arouse one’s palate.

While most of Thailand is Buddhist, the population in southern Thailand tends to be Muslim. Intense flavors in curries differ than those in Bangkok and may be a bit more pungent. There are also many similarities to Indian cuisine. Roti, an Indian bread using whole meal flour is a familiar bread in the region sweetened with condensed milk and sometimes stuffed with bananas. Cashews are found in many dishes due to the fact that it is a major agricultural crop in the south.

Is it safe to travel to Bangkok?
Thaugsuban urges that they are there to push out a tyrant, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and not to fight against the people, according to the BBC article, 'Thailand Crisis; Private Polls Proceed.' He has insisted on cutting water and electricity supplies to the Prime Minister’s private residences. Although peaceful streets still exist, disruption is unpredictable and there have been explosions, casualties and even deaths. Many protests have occurred in proximity to shopping malls. Political demonstrations continue, including those that are violent. Thailand declared the country in a state of emergency for protests on January 21, 2014. The election will happen February 2, 2014 despite opposition from protesters. Eating southern Thai cuisine may be safer outside Thailand for the time being.

Sources:
‘Fiery Food for Fiery Rallies’; WSJ.com
Roti;Wikipedia.com
‘Thailand Crisis-Private Polls Proceed’; BBC.Co.Uk