One of the more bizarre dining experiences you are likely to come across, especially in the hill country of Phaic Tan’s north, is fresh monkey brain. Not one for animal lovers, this dish involves removing the skull of a recently killed monkey, ape or adulterer and scooping out the brains which are eaten warm on a bed of lettuce! The dish has its origins in ancient times when cannibal tribes such as the Horhk would attack their lowland neighbours the Mohn people and feast on their brains. Whilst a great ritual the meal sizes simply proved inadequate and so the practice switched to primates.

Traveller’s Tip
Protect yourself in restaurants by saying, Houy mai farater, po! (‘Not spicy! Foreigner!’) whilst pointing to your (or your partner’s) bottom.


Festive Food
During times of celebration such as New Year or the cessation of civil war, the Phaic Tanese love to serve a special duck dish called guoman. The bird is plucked, rolled in spices and slowly roasted over hot coals before being brought to the table and killed. Of course, anywhere in Phaic Tan a truly authentic dining experience can be had simply by eating at one of the many roadside food stalls. Few of these establishments have menus and so it is often easiest to simply look at what other patrons are eating. If there are no other patrons or they appear to be doubled over in the gutter you might think about moving on.

Fast Food
Remember also that when eating out in Phaic Tan you may at times feel a little rushed to finish your meal. This is because in many restaurants the traditional emphasis is not so much on food quality as efficiency. Staff pride themselves on having patrons seated, fed and presented with the bill in under 12 minutes. Diners attempting to ‘linger’ may often find lights being switched off, chairs stacked and floors mopped around them. Do not be offended.

Eating Out
Phaic Tanese cuisine be best described as ‘explosive’, a fiery combination of chilli, garlic and pepper to which food is occasionally added.

Typical spices used in Phaic Tanese cuisine include (from bottom left) turmeric, cummin, chilli and gunpowder.

Nergak (above left) is a spicy fish sauce widely added to food throughout Phaic Tan. It is made at a massive processing plant in Pattaponga (above right), one of the biggest factories in Asia, said to be the only man-made structure that can be smelt from the moon.