Apparently one of my two favorite things about Bangkok is about to disappear. An article in The Nation, a local news outlet, is reporting that street food will be gone from Bangkok by the end of the year. The move comes just one month after CNN named the city tops in street food globally for the second consecutive year. It seems that work to clear out the vendors is already underway, with Siam Square already cleared out. Yaowarat and Khao San Road are up next, according to Wanlop Suwandee, chief adviser to Bangkok’s governor, as reported by The Nation.
The government is suggesting that cleaning up the streets and opening the sidewalks back up to pedestrians is key. Some locals, including district business trade groups, are less keen on the idea; they recognize the value of the street food to helping build the culture of their neighborhoods, the vibe that is so appealing to many in the city.
For me personally, losing the street meat would be a major blow. I’m already not a huge fan of Bangkok but I’ve always loved the readily accessible and cheap access to various food on pretty much every corner and soi. A typical visit for me is a quick trip to my tailor, riding the local ferry up and down the Chao Phraya a few times and eating far more street food than any one person should. If that last bit disappears I’d be terribly glum.
Yes, I get that the food scene in the city is evolving and that there are myriad options for more upscale versions of pretty much everything one can get on the street. In some cases they are set up to feel like food carts and stalls mimicking the street food, but better controlled and probably with better hygiene standards.
Fancy chicken wings and smoothies are delicious and absolutely part of the local scene now. But to bring that along and totally kill the old scene all at once is not an evolution of the culture or the country. At least not a smooth one.
That would really, really suck.
More thoughts on fancy foods in Bangkok:
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