Ah, candy floss. Sticky sickly friend of children and guilty nostalgic treat of adults.
Not in Thailand. Here, candy floss, or something very much like it, is wrapped up in pancakes and devoured by all ages as a toothsome snack.
Don’t let the garish colours put you off. As far as I could discern from extensive sampling, the colour of the floss has no effect upon its taste. The green pancakes do taste faintly of pandan, but it is possible to find plain versions from some sellers.
One receives a bag of floss and a packet of pancakes. The trick is then to roll the floss up in the pancakes without either running out of floss or getting too sticky as the sugar melts from the warmth of one’s hands.
And the taste? Well, the pancakes are very bland. Similar to a crepe but a bit less rich. Some we tried were a bit thick and stodgy. The floss compresses as you bite down into the pancake, and quickly becomes chewy. However the whole thing is quite addictive, with the super-sweet innards being tempered by the subdued taste of the wrapping.
The photo above is a Pattaya roti sai mai, but we recently went to Ayutthaya for a couple of days, which our Thai host believes to be the home of this snack.
It was true that the number of stalls bearing plastic bags of lurid floss was astounding. Our hotel (the very smart Iudia) was close to a particularly large cluster of them, leading to speculation on how they all stayed in business.
On further analysis there was some slight difference between products. As mentioned, some pancakes might be pandan-flavoured and others plain. At some stalls the floss was finer and more melting, at others, a little thicker and crunchier.
As you can see from the second photo, it is also possible to get less eye-popping versions, although is it just me or does that look disturbingly like coils of hair? Hmmm, perhaps best to go for the pink stuff after all.