Possibly A Greater Discovery Than Potatoes
Eat your heart out Sir Walter Raleigh, I think I’ve made a greater discovery than your potatoes. For myself at least. One of the things I have always longed for when staying at our village home in Udon Thani is an English style snack. Nothing fancy, just a light bite at lunch time or an easy nibble whist watching the evening TV and one which requires minimum preparation. For years I have longed for the perfect sandwich.
If you are like me and Thai food can at times be a little too much in terms of spices and herbs then the simple things are what you long for. Things don’t come much easier than a sandwich but you have to first get the right bread, butter and filling. The sandwich filling represents no problem.
In the past I have found the task of selecting the right type of bread and butter a hopeless chore. The bread has normally been too sweet, a little bland or looked right but tasted wrong. By luck on a trip to Tesco Lotus I finally got it right.
The bread (pictured left) cost 24 baht for a normal sized loaf and the butter was about 75 baht for a fair size tub and they made the perfect match. These are the Torvil and Dean of the sandwich world. My choice of sandwich filling in the top photo was good old cheese and tomato. Cheese is a little expensive in Thailand but supermarkets like Tesco Lotus stock a wide range of different varieties. I cheat and bring with me a large block of Cheddar which is far cheaper to buy in the UK. The spread is Allowrie Zero Soft Butter.
The bread was labelled Tesco Sandwich Bread which is hardly a marketing name that will slice up its fair share of the bakery market. Older UK readers will recall the ‘ Boy On the Bike ‘ Hovis bread adverts during the 1970’s and perhaps Tesco could chance a similar campaign.
A young boy carrying a large round woven basket wades through the rain sodden fields under the sweltering hot sun and hurries towards the shade that surrounds the large, lone tree in the vast field of green harvest. The rice workers stop their labour, rush over to the smiling boy who hands out fresh loaves from the basket to each and everyone. …Maybe not, but just a thought that might prove more marketable than plain Tesco Sandwich Bread.
Those of you who read one of my recent posts Mama’s Kitchen – Warts and All will know a visit to mama’s kitchen needs your medical insurance policy tucked handily inside your pocket. In times of desperation I do however risk my life and innards and venture into the kitchen myself.
On my last trip to our village home the toasted sandwich maker was pushed to one side and more traditional methods were used. Most mornings I grilled two cheese sandwiches and every time Wonderful Wi insisted on eating one, quite a surprise coming from the som tum loving village girl and I managed to escape from my brief excursions into mama’s kitchen unscathed.
Any village newbies who struggle to take to village life and its offbeat manner can make their stay a lot more comfortable by having a little of what they’re used to back home. Discovering the perfect bread and complementary butter has put another very small piece into my Thailand jigsaw and I know my next vacation will be a sandwich fest. If you haven’t tried the bread and spread shown above then give it a go and you just might taste a bite of back home.
Martyn like you I enjoy a sandwich also like you I am now able to buy the spreadable butter because my local Tesco has just started stocking it.
The wholemeal bread is also non-sweet but sadly I have to settle for Kraft cheese slices to make my favourite bite-cheese and onion sandwich!
Both the butter and cheese are quite expensive by UK standards but along with a glass of imported red wine they do provide an occasional welcome break from MTF’s super Thai cooking.
I had to put the last line in since she practices her English reading yours and Talens blog!!
.-= Mike´s last blog ..Samut Sakhon Thailand =-.
Wow. I do not do white bread, but your grilled cheese sandwich is making me hungry!
I love grilled cheese with tomatoes. And I SO agree that it really is the the ultimate sandwich combo = the Torvil and Dean of the sandwich world.
And for me, it HAS to be sharp English cheddar. Not what wimpy white and bland stuff from elsewhere (harks back to a recent trip I took where there was no English cheddar to be found… just lots of white cheese on white food… with green tomatoes… no thanks).
Just this week, when I went to Central to replace my blender, they had sandwich makers side by side. I was tempted to come away with one of those too, but I am glad I didn’t as your post convinced me to get an outside grill instead. And Webber has baby version that is just the size I need… yeah…
Tip: Bread makers are fantastic for getting decent, fresh bread. Just fill her up in the evening, set the timer for morning, and you will wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread.
And like I said… I am hungry HUNGRY now… so off I go to scramble up some lunch… (as I’m sure you can hear my stomach growling from all the way over there)
.-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thai 101 Learners Series: Bumper-to-bumper Language Lessons =-.
Mike I went through the Kraft cheese cycle but thankfully came out of it. Tesco in Udon stocks a lot of different cheeses but they are so bloody expensive. MTF reading BTMJ….her English must be getting very bad and the west country accent quite annoying for you.
Catherine I hadn’t thought of the home made bread angle, that’s a brilliant idea. I can almost smell it ….how much are they to buy in Thailand. Cooking on the outside grill gives things a much more homely taste, even in mama’s kitchen. A nice steak spitting away on that old never been cleaned grill makes me think of the old cowboy films when they drove the cattle hundreds of miles and settled around the camp fire at night….I’m starting to get hungry myself but that will have to be satisfied breakfast time at work. Back on days…great.
Martyn, I haven’t priced breadmakers in Thailand as mine is still going strong. I bought it… hm… I guess over twelve years ago now. The outside is mellowing unevenly to a deep yellow, but no matter.
I discovered breadmakers during a trip to Australia. I stayed several days at a friend’s house in Canberra, where I found myself waking up to the heavenly smell of fresh bread.
What they would do is prepare half loaves. This way, you are guarenteed no leftover bread, giving you the excuse to make new every day.
I am not a huge bread eater, so what I do is throw the unused into the freezer for later.
Btw – the crusts make a fabulous bread and butter pudding too!
.-= Catherine´s last blog ..Thai 101 Learners Series: Bumper-to-bumper Language Lessons =-.
I found the same exact bread at the Tesco in Nakhon Phanom. I wasn’t intending on buying anything that day except for cooking supplies for the family and then I saw the peanut butter….and then the jelly and I had to have a PBJ.
I almost bought some cheese that day too…one thing is for sure Tesco is very pricey.
.-= Talen´s last blog ..An Unexpected Thai Treat =-.
Talen – Tesco and their like are expensive but buying some luxury items makes the village stay a whole lot more enjoyable. Sometimes in the village when I’ve seen the chickens peck the Thai food, the dogs have a lick and the cat chased away I suddenly lose my hunger pangs. I don’t mean that offensively to the village people because that’s their way of life and the interference does them no harm at all but chicken shit and dog saliva on our food could make us seriously ill.
Mind you I reckon my stomach is getting more immune each trip and I don’t hardly if ever pick up any stomach bugs in the UK anymore. Slowly, slowly, eat chicken shit.
Catherine I will probably buy a bread maker from back here and take it over although it won’t be this trip because this next one is all about Christmas and boy has Wilai discovered it. I’m not sure if it was a good or bad idea to introduce her to Christmas because now she is like a young kid on Christmas Eve. I buy her one main present and then lots of smaller ones and the joy she gets from opening them is matched by my pleasure in watching her do so…back to the bread.
I also take over some nan bread because I have some curry pastes and sauces at the village house and sometimes cook a madras or korma…now we’re talking. A curry, cold beer and after a cigarette. What a life.
Martyn, I also forgot about my weekly fall back. Little Fa loves 7/11 because she loves chips and conveniently they also have ham and cheese sandwiches that are pretty good and tasty once they put them in that toast machine they have.
.-= Talen´s last blog ..Thailand in the News Week Ending 10/25/09 =-.
Talen – 7/11 is sometimes an oasis of pleasure for me. I grab a burger now and again, their sandwiches are passable too. The sandwich toaster…have you ever tried cleaning one after toasting a sandwich thats had an over generous supply of cheese in it, an absolute nightmare. So this last holiday I headed out to mama’s kitchen and grilled them, no mess and if there was it would just blend in with the surround. Perfect.