Familiar food in a foreign place

I have been in UK for 12 days now and I’m missing home food rather badly. By the second day I was thinking of the herbal prawns I didn’t get to eat at my own wedding dinner (although I think more so because I didn’t get to eat it than because I miss prawns). By day ten I was thinking about laksa as I walked the streets of Glasgow. On one of those days I accidentally ordered Chinese food because I didn’t realise the Scottish definition of “stir fry beef” on the menu equates to “Asian styled stir fried beef with noodles” so I was pleasantly surprised by a bowl of noodles doused liberally with soy sauce.

Some people are very resistant to eating food from home while they are traveling overseas. These people maintain that while you’re exploring another country and its culture, that should include the country’a cuisine too, especially when the cuisine is unique and can not be easily found elsewhere. Like yak milk. They are what I call the travel snobs, fine purveyors of new experiences and flavours. The travel experience is kept pure and nothing from home should taint it.

While this is one way of travelling, I’m pretty much a more practical traveller. After 12 days of Scotland, I have pretty much discovered most of what Scottish cuisine has to offer; I’ve obediently eaten every bowl of traditional oatmeal offered during breakfast and I had the traditional English breakfast almost every morning. I ate steak and ale pie, fish and chips and angus steak almost every other meal. Apart from haggis which is most unique to Scotland, I realised that every meal I’ve had in Scotland is nothing I have not eaten before back home! I realised this while eating very English wings & ribs at a music festival while watching the locals happily tucking in to asian styled fried rice and noodles. So why am I torturing myself by strictly eating what the Scots eat!

Since the whole point of being on holiday was to be happy, and eating familiar food makes me happy, we popped into a Thai restaurant just a few steps from our Glasgow hotel. If there were Thai restaurants in Glasgow that meant the Scots eat Thai food too, so we’re pretty much in keeping to eating what the locals are eating (no it’s not cheating!)

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We ordered the set lunch which was affordably priced at GBP 9.90 per person. Bryan ordered the pad thai while I had the green curry pork. What really interested me wasn’t just how authentic the food tastes so far from home country, but how they managed to emulate the taste based on the restricted number of ingredients they could find.

Take my green curry for example. It tasted really good and I enjoyed my lunch. However they included what looked like green peppercorn seeds into the curry, I’m not sure what they are since I’m not much of a cook. Bryan’s paper roll wrap had mayonnaise in it, which kinda explained why the waitress called it Thai sushi when she served it. It didn’t have bean sprouts though, which was also absent in the pad thai. I guess bean sprouts don’t grow well in temperate climates?

The pad thai tasted more like fried noodles than proper pad thai, perhaps the absence of thai fish sauce or the cook included a dash of mysterious Asian sauce to it. He also threw in broccoli into the stir fry, kinda localising the dish I guess.

In all I have discovered a new experience, to explore how people in other countries try to make do with what they have to present a dish of familiar flavours. We were pretty lucky that this restaurant kept true to original flavours than try to dumb down fusion style to suit the locals.

Well as original as it can get at a Thai restaurant that served green tea.

Thai Lemongrass
24 Renfrew Street, Glasgow

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2 comments

  1. conejito · · Reply

    I ate there once in my 4 years in Glasgow! Haha. I (think I) miss Glasgow! Scottish have no cuisine aside from their nasty haggis, so no need to feel bad…

  2. their haggis isn’t too bad actually. it tastes like heavily spiced sausage. I probably didn’t have enough time to explore Glasgow but I thought it was a bit meh. Yeah you’re right, the Scots have no cuisine. it’s just regular “Western food” 😛

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