Better Than Ramen

Some days, we all just need some mashed potatoes.

They’re safe, they’re American. They’re comfort food. It’s easy to fall into a rut of eating solely American dishes: pizza, burgers, and mac n’ cheese are so simple to come by and, of course, cheap. There’s a reason that Easy Mac and Ramen make up the base of the college food pyramid. If we try a more ethnic food, most of us will go for the classic standby: Chinese. You can get a meal for less than ten dollars. All the restaurants’ menus are the same, so you really don’t have to take any risks. When confronted by other cultural foods, many of us freeze up. “What’s that smell?” “Is there even meat in that?” “Are those vegetables?”

However, new foods are not nearly as frightening as many people seem to think. Remember, you’re the one eating the food: it won’t be doing the biting. And just because a food is unique doesn’t mean it will cost a fortune.

Once you do conquer this fear, Philadelphia is one of the best places to try different dishes. Reading Terminal Market alone has cuisine from dozens of different countries, and most of it is not nearly as weird as you might believe—or as expensive. One of these options is the Thai Market.

Most of the dishes sold here are rice based and include a variety of vegetables. Several contain chicken and seafood while others are vegetarian: I sampled red curry vegetables, pad thai, and basil chicken. The hardest thing for an American to swallow? Nothing on the menu contains red meat. However, even without the help of beef, each dish that I sampled was bursting with flavor and the myriad of spices kept things interesting without setting your mouth on fire.

Here’s the best part: full entrees ranged from five to seven dollars. You can be adventurous and spend less money than you would on a pizza. So go, conquer the monster that is ethnic food. Your curry awaits.

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