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I'm a Brit. I'm also a closet Frenchman.  To cap it all, I'm happily retired in Bangkok, the city of a street food culture that's second to none. The Thais are healthy and slim. I'm just this side of alive and far from slim. Lockdown has me fantasizing about my days working in London, Paris and New York, an existence, if one could call it that, revolving around gastronomy of one kind or another. They paid me, not so very much as it happens, to do what I enjoy doing most in life. We all get to do it, but I was one of a fortunate few who made it his metier. Well all that's in the past now, but I still dream of my time in Paris when lunch was a tad short of 2-hours, little-known local bistros remained affordable until the day they were discovered by La Bible (Michelin Guide) and the students were revolting - this was the summer of '68, for heaven's sake. Someone should open bistro here in Bangkok with a table d'hote of Soupe a l'Oignon gratinee, Blanquette de Veau, a stinky Epoisses and Tarte Tatin to finsih with creme fraiche. Ah, it's back to lockdown and pad Thai. 

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I"m still figuring out how and where to post and reply. I am a newbie to eGullet. Let's see where this one ends up in cyberspace.

 

To better enjoy gastronomy, knowing a bit of history about a national cuisine adds a certain piquancy to the food on the plate. Take for instance Thai restaurants in dear old Blighty (UK), it all stated in the late sixties and early seventies when London became host to a handful of political exiles from old Siam/modern day Thailand. Periodic army coups are a feature of Siam/Thailand ever since a constitutional monarchy was adopted in the early 1930's. Political upheavals invariably throw up those who go into exile. It's the way it's always been. . Thai exiles in the 1960's and early '70's were well educated, well to do and well and truly bored. But what to do in London? Start a Thai restaurant was the obvious solution, for London was a city of a thousand Indian (mostly Bangladeshi) and Chinese (mostly Hong Kong) restaurants but no Thai eateries (the Brits & the French tried hard to colonize Siam in 18th & 19th centuries, but the canny Siamese kept them out for the most part). The four or five Thai eateries that sprang up in London in the late sixties/early seventies were small, exotic and served authentic Thai food, but I doubt if they were run for profit. Few denizens of London knew about these centers of excellence for they were tucked away and largely out of sight and beyond the interest of the media. That's the way London's small Thai community wanted it at the time. This all changed with an almighty bang in the 1980's and '90's when cheap flights and the lure of Thailand's fauna and flora had gentlemen flying out from Heathrow to Thailand on a wing and a prayer. The American GIs, on R&R from Vietnam, had beaten a path to the LOS (Land of Smiles) by more than a decade. The meek and mild Brits followed in its wake. The cross fertilization of ideas and behaviors had the semi-educated, wage earning Brits returning to dear old Blighty with a "new" wife and bingo, you had the genesis of Thai restaurants in London and beyond!  By the thousands,, no less.  No High Street anywhere in the UK is without its Thai restaurant where less than authentic food is served up by smiling ladies who bring their charms to London and beyond. 

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3 hours ago, Drew777 said:

This all changed with an almighty bang in the 1980's and '90's when cheap flights and the lure of Thailand's fauna and flora had gentlemen flying out from Heathrow to Thailand on a wing and a prayer. The American GIs, on R&R from Vietnam, had beaten a path to the LOS (Land of Smiles) by more than a decade.

 

You mean 'sex tourism'.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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