I dislike Facebook. I would go so far as to say that I hate it. Yet I remain on Facebook, because it seems no one in Thailand can communicate with another person in Thailand without it. Also, I like being reminded of people’s birthdays.
But every day that I remain on Facebook also reminds me of how much of a hellhole this social media landscape can be. (Twitter, everyone knows, is also bad, but can also be funny, as shown by this thread that I love). Unlike Twitter, every new development the infernal engineers over in Palo Alto come up with only adds to the soul-sucking lameness of Facebook. Like, no, leave me alone about Kid’s Facebook. I do not want my kids to be on social media all day long. We all know how well that has worked out for our parents. And JFC, stop nagging me about this weekend’s yoga class — everyone knows I’m going already! You are not the boss of me, Facebook!
So it should have been no surprise when I caught a conversation about a Thai restaurant in the US, started by a man I do not know personally (of course), bemoaning the exorbitant prices of said restaurant with the statement, the shit cherry on top of a turd sundae, that “this is peasant food”. The comment somehow so incensed me (ed: the whole point of Facebook), a person who reads a lot of shit opinions on everything, that I actually considered wading into the cesspool of this conversation to say something. But why make comments so publicly on Facebook when I can rant and rave on my blog, which no one reads? Take that, Mark Zuckerberg!
I then thought about writing my retort to this in a very straightforward way, pointing out the provenance of dishes like massaman curry, the sheer labor involved in cooking a real Thai meal, the price of importing Thai ingredients to the US at a time when everyone in the world is feeling the heat, and a host of other extremely boring things. But then I realized the folly of my thinking. The fact is, this guy who knows everything about Thailand is right. We should not pay so much money for peasant food. After all, they are peasants! They don’t need our money. They are busy farming and drinking and hanging out with their elephants. What would they do with all of this extra money we are giving them? They are above all this money-grubbing.
We should reexamine other peasant food as well. Like, WTF is up with the prices at Giglio? Are you seriously telling me I have to spend 250 baht (5 whole bowls of noodles in peasant terms!) for an order of panzanella? Don’t even get me started on the pappardelle. Or Appia! A whopping 400 baht (read: 8 bowls of noodles) for trippa alla Romana, part of a menu inspired by the countryside of Lazio, which has never seen the likes of peasants darkening its cobblestones, ever.
There have also never been peasants in France, a very sophisticated country whose restaurants in Bangkok feel free to charge 690 baht (or 13.8 bowls of noodles) for a serving of cassoulet aka sausages and beans, or 340 baht (6.8 bowls of noodles) for onion soup. And let’s not leave out the center for the very apex of the culinary arts, Great Britain, whose ambassadors of cuisine in Bangkok charge 410 baht (8.2 bowls of noodles) for a shepherd’s pie, a veritable steal for the undisputed pinnacle of fine dining artistry anywhere in the world.
All the same, I have yet to see loudmouthed, know-it-all gourmands posting the receipts for their French, Italian, Spanish etc. meals in a huff on social media. I wonder why that is? No matter, we will surely rectify this situation here in Bangkok (the capital of a third-world country, but still). We shall scour every restaurant, posting the receipts of our meals only after we have eaten every bite and drunken every drop, accompanied by a strongly-worded complaint of how our food was inspired by peasants. We can even do it on Facebook!
TLDR: Keep an eye out for the third edition of my book, “Thailand’s Best Street Food”, out in bookstores next month! The cover will look different from this:
This has been my TED talk.