If you hadn’t noticed, collectively, Thais have some strange habits and peculiar customs. No problemo. They think the same of farang. And while the average sex tourist who only spends time with a bar boy at the bar and then back in his hotel room may seldom encounter the many oddities that fall under the heading of Only In Thailand other than the occasional footprint on his room’s toilet seat, once you begin to expand your socialization efforts beyond that parameter your life becomes rife with the twists Thais have put on everyday life. Undoubtedly no more so than when you decide to share a simple meal with your boy du jour.
From the strange things they eat, to the strange ways they go about doing so, to the fact that what you ordered as an appetizer probably will be served after your main course, dining in Thailand with a local can be a real eye opener. Many a farang has pondered just what it is you are supposed to do with that large spoon, and the array of condiments that are de rigueur on any Thai dining table are confusing enough to make you wish you’d just hit McDonalds and called it a night. Even the concept of a meal changes when it meets Thainess. Thais as a general rule do not eat the three square meals we’re familiar with in the West. Instead they eat smaller portions throughout the day. As often as a Thai stops for food daily, you’d think they all have tapeworms. But their idea of eating a little bit often is actually a more efficient way of burning calories. Unless you really did take your boy du jour to McDonalds.
But the Thai dining custom that perplexes – and often pisses off – farang the most is their twist on the Mexican phrase Mi casa es su casa. In Thai that translates to your food is my food. And what lands on your plate, to a Thai, is always fair game. Dining Thai style means ordering a variety of dishes which everyone shares. And Thais always dine Thai style. It’s their version of the Three Musketeers’ motto of “All for one, one for all”. Which may help explain why that 3 Musketeers bar in your hotel room’s mini-fridge disappeared. Farang will tell you that it’s not about their bar boy eating the mini-fridge empty but rather the over-inflated cost of what they ate. Thais know better. And nothing is worse than a cheap bastard farang. Even on a full stomach.
No Thai would allow an acquaintance to go hungry, so you should understand why bar boys can’t grasp the idea of hands-off when it comes to food. It may take you a while to come to terms with the Thai attitude toward all food being up for grabs, but once you get used to the idea of your boy du jour eating off your plate you’ll realize, like with so many other customs you encounter in Thailand, it’s just one of those things you’ll do better to just accept. Nonetheless, there are some rules that you should insist on when it comes to sharing your food with a hungry bar boy:
McDonalds and Burger King are American institutions and Westerner dining habits rule. It’s okay if he eats some of your french fries. ‘Some’ is defined by three. Otherwise he should have ordered his own. And no one is obligated to allow another person to take a bite out of their Big Mac.
The only time a bar boy should be allowed to share your ice cream cone is when he licks it in a manner that precludes your need for Viagra that night. But the general rule is that if he chose to not get ice cream, he must live with the decision he made.
Once a pizza has been sliced, you are not obligated to allow him to eat yours. Except for the part that has an anchovy on it. And if he asked in Thai for pineapple as a topping, he gets the entire pie.
Backwash is a no-no, so sodas, milkshakes, and fruit juices are not to be shared. Unless he is parched and dying and no other liquids are in sight. Ditto for soup. You should only be forced to swap a trough of saliva when you’re eating bird’s nest soup. Alcohol beverages, on the other hand, should always be shared. ‘Cuz a tipsy bar boy will allow you to do things to him he otherwise would not.
There are some Thai desserts that are tasty; life is not worth living without mango sticky rice. But generally Thai sweets suck ‘cuz they don’t use enough processed sugar. Cake, pie, and other baked goods that keep Westerners in the shape they’ve grown accustom to are not standard fare for Thai palates. And despite how good they taste, they are unhealthy for you. So refusing to share your dessert isn’t about being greedy, it’s about seeing to your boy du jour’s welfare. Except for tiramisu. If he even looks at your tiramisu like he’s getting ready to grab a forkful, you are well within your rights to bitch slap him silly. If he looks hurt, just tell him that’s how you eat tiramisu back home. He’ll probably believe you having heard that rumor before since I started it over ten years ago.
Just because you shared your chicken McNuggets with him doesn’t mean he has to share his fried grasshoppers with you.
Rice is family food and should always be shared. Ditto for noodles except when you’re eating spaghetti. Then you are only obligated to share if he’s willing to reenact that scene from Lady And The Tramp. In fact, more restaurants in Thailand should offer spaghetti on their menu.
Dining with a Thai bar boy can be an enjoyable experience as long as your are firm and fair with your food rules. He may not be happy with your decisions, but will still walk away from the table with a full stomach. Besides part of the 500 baht taxi money he gets out of you at the end of your time together will go toward his next meal anyway.
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