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What Does Freedom Taste Like?

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What Does Freedom Taste Like?

Several times per month I am forced to answer some curious foreigner’s question, “Why do you live in Thailand?” Invariably, I answer with one word; “freedom”. I proudly state that I was born and raised to believe you should live in a free country, and now I do.

Some people accept what I say without question. Others want to argue and point to the current government in Thailand and saying it’s not so freedom-friendly. Rather than get drawn into a fruitless political argument, I decide to start listing the many liberties I enjoy in the Land of Smiles but not in my country of origin; ironically nicknamed “the land of the free”.

In my home country, we are victims of Food-Nazis. Go into a neighborhood cafe at 8 AM and you’ll be given the breakfast menu. You are expected to choose from this limited list without question and without variation. Bacon, eggs, pancakes, French toast, etc.

And, should you happen to arrive one minute past the arbitrary cut-off for breakfast, you will be referred to the lunch menu. Ask for a variance on this policy and the service staff will have you believe the cooks suddenly lose the ability to fry an egg past noon. Ask to order from the lunch menu before noon and you may be asked to leave.
Here in Thailand Food-Nazis are not tolerated. Menus are volumes long and everything is pretty much available all the time unless they are out of it. And, there are no rigid rules that say what is acceptable for breakfast

When I go to my neighborhood market in the morning, I see Thai people swarming around all the food stalls equally. Some people like the sweet sticky fried bananas or those oh-so-delicious Thai doughnuts. Many order Khao Thom (rice porridge) with pork. Khao Tom is my favorite hangover cure. I like to load it up with ginger and chilies to sweat out the previous evening’s revelry.

But, by far my favorite breakfast dish is crunchy and decadent fried chicken with sweet chili dipping sauce. Where I come from, the only way you could have fried chicken for breakfast was if it was cold and left over from the night before. If you set out to find a big plate of fried chicken wings at 8 AM it would be a tough task indeed.
Here in Thailand it is available in all its crackling greasy glory any time of day; but especially for breakfast. That’s the story this week’s picture tells … the story of food freedom.

I wait patiently in the queue at my chicken lady’s cart a few mornings each week, surrounded by like-minded individuals.

We smile at each other because we share a common affliction.

We smile because we have the right to choose. We smile because we know what freedom tastes like.

It tastes like fried chicken for breakfast.

Orlando Barton

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