I am going to describe a food item to you, and it’s going to sound disgusting.
This food is sort of like a sandwich – sort of.
Inside the two sad pieces of bread that make up its outer layer, you will find a mysterious, rubbery slice of meat. Well… it’s more of a meat imposter. It looks like ham. It kind of tastes like ham too. But god damn, it did not come from a pig. At least, not the kind of pig you’re familiar with.
This plasticky slice of almost-meat is joined inside the bread by a strange, white-ish cheese – though again, it’s hard to imagine this stuff coming from a living, breathing animal. This cheese is melted, so that it has the consistency of a stickier hollandaise sauce. It clings in strings to everything it touches.
This rather nauseating sounding mess is served to you, from frozen, in a ventilated cardboard envelope, over the counter of a 7-Eleven in the sun-tortured country of Thailand.
Do you eat it?
Given the way I’ve described it, probably not. And yet I have just described the Toastie – specifically the ham and cheese Toastie – one of the most popular snacks among the throngs of backpackers that ceaselessly travel through Thailand.
Backpackers love toasties. I know, because I was once one of them, and the dozens of toasties I ate in Thailand are probably still sitting like concrete slabs in my stomach, resisting the very best efforts of my stomach acid. When my life comes to an end, I will carry them with, entirely undigested, into the ground.
The Toastie, like the hotdog, is just one of those foods. If you think too much about what’s in it, and how it’s made, you will probably stop eating it, mid-chew, and throw up. If you can train yourself not to question the shady origins of each Toastie you eat, however, you will enjoy them immensely. You will spend thousands of Thai Baht on them, gorging like a hungry hyena each time you pass a glowing Thai 7-Eleven. For the Toastie is a warm, salty, artery-plugging pocket of goodness.
Here’s to the Toastie, the toothsome and probably toxic fuel of the Thailand backpacker.
This article debuted on WildLives.co on 22/5/2017.