Foreign Grocery Friday: The Sugar Roti of Ayutthaya, Thailand
When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to pop into a local grocery store and check out the food products and candies we'd never find anywhere else. So we're trying out this new feature, Foreign Grocery Friday, where each week we'll feature some of our (and your) favorite overseas treats. Got a recommendation? Let us know!
About an hour outside of Bangkok is a ginormous UNESCO world heritage site more than worth the sidetrip. It's Ayutthaya, which most people may better recognize as a word sometimes featured on Thai take-out menus. Well, it's a city too. And actually it was one of the world's largest cities at one time, back when it was the capital of Siam. Like any great power it had its foes, and the Burmese army trashed the place in the 1700s. That doesn't mean they wiped out the culture of the place, however, and one tasty bit remains in the Ayutthaya Roti.
Roti are ubiquitous in Southeast Asia, and here and there elsewhere around the world as well. It's a round bread, done here like a floppy, tissue-thin tortilla almost, but then added with a filling of spun flavored sugar threads. It's essentially roti with sai mai or 'silk thread.'
The taste: Take some cotton candy and wrap it in a crepe. You are close! Too sugary, though. The Ayutthaya Roti are subtle in flavor, thanks in part to the delicate addition of ingredients like pandan leaf (makes the green-hued roti) and butterfly flower (makes the purple-hued sai mai). There's a bit of an initial satisfying crunch from the sugar threads, but they quickly congeal and melt away into your mouth as your chew the light roti.
Price: It depends how much sai mai you buy and how many roti you desire. A medium-size bag like this plus about 15 roti breads cost around 50-80 THB ($1.65 - $2.65) on the street.
Where to find it: Head to the markets and the street food vendors. We scored these goods from the stands opposite the famous Reclining Buddha statue in the heart of the old city ruins. You kinda can't miss it.
If you'd like to share some of your foreign grocery finds, we'd love love love to see them. Send 'em on over via email here and snack on, my friends.
Disclosure: Some of our travel and accommodations in Thailand were as a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, though rest assured that all opinions and photos presented are completely our own.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted]