Traveling In Thailand: Two Things I Noticed On Day 1

Unrefrigerated Eggs

One of the first things I noticed while traveling in Thailand is that they don’t refrigerate their eggs in stores. They just leave egg cartons out at room temperature in grocery stores. When buying street food, I’ve seen Thais buying eggs out in the warm and humid weather. Thoughts going through my head:

“Aren’t these eggs going to either rot or hatch right here in the open?”

“Will I catch salmonella if I eat those eggs because they weren’t refrigerated?”

unrefrigeggs

Apparently, it’s not just a Thai thing. Many other countries do the same thing. So many that the U.S. is one of the only countries that refrigerate their eggs. After a quick search on the Internet, I came across this article:

NPR Article: Why The U.S. Chills Its Eggs And Most of the World Doesn’t

I was surprised to find out that it is actually not normal practice to refrigerate eggs. The germaphobic U.S. started washing eggs right after they come out of chickens, but washing the eggs actually removes a protective sheen from the egg shells.

The protective sheen is what protects the eggs from invading bacteria and other microbes. Removing the sheen makes the eggs more porous and vulnerable to bacteria, thus the need for refrigeration.

Skipping the washing process altogether preserves the shell and its protective properties, so we don’t need to refrigerate unwashed eggs.

However, the most important thing is consistency. Once you refrigerate an egg, washed or unwashed, then it must remain refrigerated until consumption.

Street Food Vendors Outnumber Restaurants Ten to One

streetfoodthai'

There are ten times as many street food vendors as actual restaurants. The food is ten times cheaper and often tastes much better. I could walk into a restaurant and see a Thai dish for 300 baht. Then I could walk back outside and find the exact same dish at a street vendor for only 30 baht. Not only street food are cheaper, but they also cook it right on the spot after taking your order and serve it to you freshly cooked. You can watch and see what goes into your food as they cook your meal.

Perhaps restaurants aren’t necessary here?

Many people have cautioned me to not eat street food in Thailand (or anywhere in Asia), and I heeded those cautions in my first trip here back in March. The assumption was that I’d get sick from food poisoning if I ate street food as opposed to eating in a restaurant.

I’ve eaten street food almost daily here in Thailand and I have not yet had any stomach issues. Everyone here eats street food. Taxi drivers, professionals, businessmen, shopkeepers, shoppers, fellow expats, and kids of all ages. If street food was dangerous to consume, no one would be eating it. On the contrary, the fear of food poisoning is unfounded and greatly exaggerated. Aside from tourism, a large part of the Thai economy practically runs on street food.

Writing about Thai street food is making me hungry. So I will head out to get some meat sticks and perhaps some crispy Thai Roti, all for not much more than a dollar and change.

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