A popular snack from afternoon to evening is any of a variety of barbecued meats. These meats are usually skewered on to bamboo sticks and grilled over hot coals. Perhaps one of the best known barbecues is the Thai adaptation of satay, a dish found throughout South-East Asia. You may encounter carts selling satay or other barbecues on the street any time from late afternoon on to late night. Carts are often quite mobile, and move around with the crowds. Often, they are built starting with a motorcycle, with the front replaced by a push-cart. This allows the cart to quickly move from an afternoon spot outside an office area, to a good dinner location, and then on to an entertainment area for late night snacks.

Barbecued Meats

Barbecued meats at a street stall in Chiang Mai

Barbecues are perhaps the last remnants of the methods used by food sellers of many years ago. Travellers accounts from the early twentieth century recount how food vendors would walk the streets with a pole balanced on their shoulders. From one end of the pole hung a basket holding the raw materials while from the other dangled a clay pot of hot coals. Upon finding a customer, the vendor would prepare the food and cook it on the spot. Surprisingly, even curry vendors worked in this way. They would draw water from the nearest canal, then add the spices and cook the meal on the spot.

Barbecues are a popular 'picnic' food for Thais. You will find barbecue stalls in or near public parks, zoos and other outdoor attractions. Barbecue stalls may also offer semi-dried meats as well. Dried meats are a common element in Thai cuisine, and slices of pork, beef or fish laid out on round bamboo trays set in the sun are a common sight all around the kingdom. The idea is probably quite shocking to western ideas of food hygiene, but a marinade made with garlic and coriander roots begins a curing process that effectively stops decomposition, at least for the short drying time of one day.