December 2011, local market in Bangkok, Thailand.
!Nibbling on street food is an inexpensive way to dine out in Thailand. You can fill yourself with a soulful lunch for a dollar or less and spend not much more for a hearty, well-balanced supper of several courses. A refreshing mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack can cost just a quarter. But the low price does not indicate a low quality of food. In fact, a lot of street cuisine is very good and rivals some of the more refined gourmet restaurants, and the variety to choose from is immense, including many wonderful treats rarely seen on restaurant menus. Among these are traditional delicacies that are complicated to make and labor intensive, requiring the constant care and attention during cooking that many street vendors are able to give owing to their specialization in only one or a few items. They become experts at cooking their specialties, after having done it every day for years, and often become well known and patronized in their area of the city. Some of my students who have traveled with me around Thailand insist that the best food they had there was along the streets and canals, in parking lots and at truck stops along highways.