I am sick. Actually, I am more than sick: I am a walking cesspool of germs, a petri dish with legs and arms. And although I know it could be worse, I am still very busy feeling sorry for myself, especially since my “mean” Singapore sometime-overlord is making me jump through hoop after hoop before I leave for Japan in two days.
My current state of sick is not the same as the sickness that comes from eating at a food stall. That is a scary sort of sick that goes beyond concerns about the “curry tummy” into the realm of the potentially lethal. The jury is still out on whether this terrible death was definitely food-related, but the bottom line is: you risk getting sick any time you eat food not prepared by you. Most food stalls are relatively clean, and as Richard Barrow points out, there are ways of minimizing your chances of getting ill.
But, no. My sick is the kind that turns my nose into a runny faucet and renders conversations frustrating exercises in mumble-roaring. Naturally, there is a plethora of home remedies from garlic to ginseng to chicken soup, but the Thais have their very own way of dealing with these things, and it involves bombing the crap out of your cold with chilies:
There is something about that heady mix of chilies, kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass that somehow cuts through the traffic jam in your sinuses, bringing you back to the land of the living. But if the street isn’t really your preferred culinary ‘hood, you can still get relief from a bona fide “fancy” place: Bussaracum, which specializes in “royal Thai cuisine”, even provides a “menu from 120 years ago” cobbled together from recipes straight out of @kanitthaifood’s old books. Here, a tom yum from a century ago and the modern interpretation (which one is which?):
The old-school version includes roasted chili paste and mango for acidity (so if you guessed the thick, chili-looking one, you were right!). The entire menu is 690++ baht for seven courses, so head on over there if you want to try any of their other boran dishes side-by-side with their modern-day counterparts.
And if you are sick, like I am, bring a hefty supply of tissues.