A Chili Icebreaker

Locals never expect falangs to eat chilis. At times, this is the most annoyting thing: We’re surrounded by spicy, yummy foods but we can’t get the locals to serve us what they eat. Foreigners eat bread, they think (and I’m gluten intolerant!). They don’t expect us to eat rice or chili.
So when we’re out on a story and offered food, I try to pop a whole chili in my mouth right from the start. It usually impresses the locals and arouses approving smiles. It’s a good icebreaker and it leads to warm conversations.

4 thoughts on “A Chili Icebreaker

  1. Farang. Falang. Depends which country you’re in (Thailand or Lao PDR), and in which region of these countries. Lao and Thai do not have official transliterations, so the spellings often depend on the most commonly accepted sound. I don’t have my Thai dictionary on me at the moment, but under “French” in my Lao dictionary, it lists “kon falang” (“kon” meaning “person”).

    In Cambodia, it’s barang. But they all mean the same thing, literally “French,” but taken to mean any white-skinned foreigner.

    And yes, Jojo, Jerry has many of those warm moments.

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