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Phuket Opinion: Why not to cook



PHUKET: This island has ruined me for cooking. I used to take no small amount of pride in my forays into the kitchen. I’m no Jamie Oliver to be sure, but I like to think I make a pretty mean spaghetti Bolognese.

Alas, living in Phuket my culinary skills, along with my neglected cookware, sit on the shelf gathering dust. Why? You may ask. Well, it’s because food here is so good, cheap and widely available that cooking at home becomes pretty much nonsensical.

As I prepare for work each morning, I ponder which tasty breakfast snack I will grab from the street-side vendors today.

A strong dark-iced coffee for 20 baht? Always. Three freshly-fried, custard-filled dough balls for 10 baht, hmm… why not? Sticky rice with banana? A steamed bun filled with pork and egg? Or perhaps something more substantial, like a bowl of hearty boiled rice with pork? The choices are endless.

Rarely do my thoughts turn to the packet of cornflakes on top of the fridge, which these days seem more like a Warhol-esque modern art piece than a viable breakfast option.

At lunchtime it’s the same; should I go to that guy with the fantastic roast duck or that place with the super crispy pork stir-fried with Thai basil? Wherever I go, I can be reasonably sure that the food will be tasty, filling, served lightning-fast and cost less than a bottle of water in most western countries.

As dusk falls, the cluster of local food vendors near my house begin preparing their respective specialties and laying them out in neatly stacked piles on their carts. This is where I really come to ruin, as my eyes are invariably bigger than my stomach. Strolling through the throng of vendors, my hands begin to fill with snacks; steamed corn, skewered barbecued meats of all descriptions, spicy and sour somtam, spring rolls, fried chicken or fish with super hot chili sauce.

The variety is amazing, the value incredible, and there are always new dishes to try for the first time.

Granted, my culinary wanderings have so far stopped short of the fried insect stall, but I will have to try them one of these days.

When I bring home my bounty from the market and begin to devour it, I often spare a thought for those poor suckers still slaving away over a hot stove to make their dinner, and suddenly I don’t feel so bad for not cooking.

— Mark Knowles


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