Mastering the malaise: Eat, be merry …

by Robin Westley Martin

Enjoying fabulous food is definitely something we do not need to experience vicariously, via the posts your friends and family flood your social platforms with, on a somewhat too regular basis. Thank you, but an out of focus photo of you eating your sausage and mash doesn’t really do it for me, even if the gravy does look pretty tasty.

The strictures that have been put in place to vanquish the virus during the global pandemic, such as self-quarantine and social distancing, have put the brakes on us going out to our favourite restaurant to celebrate a birthday, go on a date, or for any other celebration. When they are allowed to welcome us to their tables once more, we will see many changes in what is being dubbed the ‘new normal’.

The hospitality sector worldwide has been in nuclear meltdown, with hotels, pubs, cafes, and restaurants all being forced to close their doors. Some savvy restaurateurs embraced their tech knowhow and started offering the most popular meals on their menu for customers to eat at home, either by delivering the food themselves, or more likely by partnering with a delivery service, in Thailand such as Lineman, Grab, or Food Panda.

This is all very well but eating a restaurant meal at home takes away that special something you experience when going out; being served by attractive and attentive waiting staff and being poured a nice glass of red to go with your meal, for example. Eating a beef stroganoff in your dressing gown and slippers, while sitting on the sofa binge watching Breaking Bad, supping on a can of beer out of the fridge does not quite cut it.

But a homecooked meal can bring back a bit of intimacy, it is something you have prepared yourself, and the appreciative comments you receive from your partner or kids make your kitchen efforts worthwhile. Hopefully!

Should you be a little worried that your culinary skills might not be up to those of the chef at your local Italian (or even KFC), in Bangkok you are covered. No worries. A few enterprising Western expats noticed a gap in the market…  home deliveries… for those of us living here who fondly think of the foods they enjoyed back in their own countries, with their families. Deliveries in Bangkok during lockdown rocketed. Check out the online menus, make your choices, and you will soon be sitting down to a Cumberland sausage sandwich, a steak and kidney pie, or a rack of ribs in barbecue sauce. These guys have taken it upon themselves to supply you with a taste of home, in your far away from home Thailand retreat.

As well as the aforementioned delicacies you can partake of home cured bacon, a whole range of different sausages, meat pies, Tandoori chicken, beef stews, Lasagna, and so much more, that you will discover as you read on. On your TV’s back at home you are sure to have tuned into one or another of the chef shows, because they are popular across all channels and countries. Some of these chaps living in Bangkok – or maybe their Thai wives or girlfriends – decided to make a business out of their love of food. They make the sausages themselves, cure the bacon, bake the homemade pies for you, and deliver the repast right to your door. All you have to do then is cook the sausages or bacon to your taste or heat up the ready cooked pies or other meals. Close your eyes, turn up the aircon to freezing, and there you are, back in your living room, from whence you came.

We are going to look at four places today that you will be able to check out online. After choosing your taste of the day from their menu it won’t be long before you’re enjoying a homestyle meal in the comfort of your own place, musing, ‘Bloody hell, I shouldn’t have waited till Covid-19 lockdown before I tried this out’.

The first place we are going to look into is Uncle Cameron’s traditionally smoked meats.  Cameron is a long serving journalist in Thailand, and also bass player in the Midnight Ramblers, SE Asia’s top Rolling Stones tribute band. But the food string to his bow is his passion. Cameron has always liked cooking since he was a kid and he wanted to try out curing and smoking meat, so he found an inexpensive smoker, and figured out how to do it. A ham he did for a friend’s Christmas lunch came out well, so he carried on.

He bought a meat grinder, had a go at sausages, and it expanded from there… more culinary gear, refining recipes, trying them out on friends. ‘Uncle’ Cameron, in partnership with his wife, who he says is a superb cook, now has 18 products in his lineup that are a mix of ‘you-cook-’em’ and ‘heat-and-eat’.  

You cook ems are: a range of sausages (Cumberland, Italian, American Bratwurst, Toulouse, and Northern Thai Spicy Sai Oua sausages, plus custom ones on request), home cured and genuine slow smoked bacon (it takes nine days to make that and the pork loin ham), cured unsmoked Canadian pea meal bacon, and chunky bacon bites or ‘lardons’… same as the bacon but cut into cubes, and his favourite, specially spiced beef burgers. 

Cooked and ready to eat cured and smoked loin ham, smoked chicken legs or whole bird, smoked pulled pork, barbecue ribs with Cameron’s own magnificent homemade sauce, tandoori chicken legs, Uncle Cameron’s barbecue sauce on its own, and whole legs of ham – about 10kg. For the vegetarians or those who want to dress up their meat, naturally fermented sauerkraut – or Farang Kimchi, as one Thai customer has renamed it.

As well as individual customers Cameron also supplies a supermarket, hotels, restaurants, and pubs. Whatever you choose from Cameron’s menu I don’t think you will regret your choice. If he’s not too busy when he delivers (unlikely) you will find he has lots of stories to tell.

Next on the grub trail let’s delve into Ann’s Frozen Food. The range of food products Ann makes is on a grand scale, and if you can’t find something to tempt you, you must be on a fast. Ann is married to Patrick, with one beautiful daughter, Sarah. They have been together over 15 years and both have a long history of working with food for foreigners and Thais alike. Ann and Pat supply many hotels and restaurants around town, but this business has dried up until the hospitality industry is able to fully reopen. The personal sector, to deliver to families and individuals’ homes, grew during the lockdown and has taken up some of the slack.

Pat said, ‘We are more than happy to deliver our range of frozen foods to individuals and families. We keep our prices down and will easily fit into your household budget. All our food is fully cooked before being frozen and comes in microwave friendly packaging. You can order our food and it will stay safe and frozen for three months or more, and when you are ready to eat just pop it in the microwave and within minutes you will have a delicious homemade meal’.

This friendly couple said that during the lockdown their best sellers were lasagna, steak and Guinness pies, or Indian curries with naan bread. But check out their website, your taste buds will be drooling with anticipation.

Heading on down the menu of food providers, next up is Not Just Meat. Not Just Meat, or NJM, is a family owned and operated business. While Sean’s out talking shop with prospective customers, or making personal deliveries, Samantha, his bilingual Anglo-Thai daughter, manages it. Then there is Sean’s better half, Nok, she will be hidden behind the scenes somewhere looking after admin, finance and other duties. Sean has been in the meat and food industry around the world for over 30 years, the last 12 of them in Thailand. Together, in this new venture, they seem to have got things right, because everything I myself have tried from them deserves a 5 star rating, and I am a sausage connoisseur! My grandfather was a Master Chef, and Master Baker (no jokes please). NJM is Bangkok’s newest go-to place for premium-quality local and imported expatriate foods at great prices and offer their own spin on delicacies such as Cumberland sausage, English middle bacon, black pudding. lamb burgers, chicken, beef and pork pies, chicken tikka masala, lamb doner kebabs, and readymade meals.

Brits and Aussies looking at this list will be drooling at the mouth, and strange as it may seem, after I introduced my Thai girlfriend to some of these Brit delicacies, she has become a fan too. With her added Thai super spicy sauces, of course.

We might have saved the best of these Brit/Western style food delivery services in Bangkok till last. Phil Hudson and his Thai wife Suthima ran fine dining restaurants together in the UK and France, before deciding to return to Thailand, where they opened a bistro in Chiang Mai, offering European food, which ran for seven successful years before Phil decided it was time for him to retire. He and his wife moved to Bangkok, but Suthima was restless, and she decided to use her experience and skills to develop a range of stuff for home delivery. European home cooked food, and promote it on her Facebook page, and the Line app. She has been doing quite successfully for about three years now, her aim is to offer the best in original dishes, not factory food, using the best ingredients that we can find. What I find particularly enticing about the list of delectable food here is that they are not restricted to savoury items. They bake brilliant cakes and pastries too. The moist chocolate cake is to die for, lemon drizzle, English scones with homemade jam, brownies, the list goes on. Give their menu a look see, but don’t order too much, unless you also pay for a gym membership to lose the extra pounds you are sure to put on.

So, you see, then, that the curbs on going out that are in place now, and the way things will be in the new normal has not stopped you from being able to enjoy the visceral pleasure of eating delicious and tasty foods… with the minimum of effort on your own part, it has all been done for you.

Spark up your wi-fi, get your fingers flying across your keyboard, and check out the menus of these guys. I can guarantee that when you see the variety of dishes on offer it will be difficult to choose. But don’t miss out … click … order!

Featured outlets:

Uncle Cameron’s: https://www.facebook.com/unclecamerons/

Ann’s Frozen Foods: https://www.annsfrozenfood.com/

Not Just Meat: https://www.facebook.com/NotJustMeatBkk/

European Home Cooked Food: go to Line app, ID bangkokpie … you will be sent a menu.

Robin Westley Martin

Robin has been living in Thailand and SE Asia for over 30 years. He first worked as News Editor for Business in Thailand magazine, before moving on to edit and write for the Thai Airways domestic inflight magazine, and also Hotel & Travel, amongst others. He continues to work in SE Asia and Thailand as a freelance writer or editor for several magazines, covering a wide range of genres.

E-mail: [email protected] Facebook: Robin Westley Martin Line: robinsiam555

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