Phuket’s Oldest Tea Snack ‘Pang Pia’
It is now not a secret that Phuket folks love their foods. They say with pride that locals, one proudly born and bred in town, are mostly familiar with a 7-meal day. That’s the usual deeds, they say. And for visitors who are fortunate enough to come across the real Phuket’s delicious lifestyle, you will know that the saying was not entirely an exaggeration. Foods are everywhere in Phuket Town, but their foods are not the usual fare, but the ones spawned and formulated through a long period of unique cultural settlement.
Phuket’s local foods are the result of cross-cultural blends between Chinese traders that came across the Malay Peninsula and local southern people. That is why many dishes here are categorised as ‘Peranakan’ for their unusual, delicious and wholesome, recipes that have been honed to match the palates of locals, so much so that they perpetuated them until now in their daily life.
Among many Phuket’s traditional eatings is their tea-time snacks. Tea, as you know, plays a crucial part of Chinese community anywhere. Phuket Town is laden with tea-drinking opportunities. In modern cafes, old-school tea snacks are served along with a variety of teas. Even when you order coffee, chances are you will be treated with uniquely-named bites such as ‘Tao Sor,’ ‘Mor Lao,’ ‘Kong Tung Yoon,’ and ‘Buloo.’
But then, there is also the so-called ‘Pang Pia’ which happens to be one of the oldest tea-time snacks of Phuket. Pang Pia is a simple treat, made from merely three ingredients being wheat, glucose syrup and water. In fact, Pang Pia takes longer than the first few chews to get through to the tastes. The mild, subtle delicacies is hollow and dainty; its cavity the result of expansion of the sugar when heated through the baking process.
Pang Pia – as simple and cute as they are – is a favourite for all ages. The direct translation of the name is ‘aromatic sweet,’ and that makes it also an auspicious treat. You will see Pang Pia in good parts of deity worships and ceremonies. But also, when it comes to welcoming the little ones to a family, Pang Pia is also a familiar treat to the mother. Instead of eating it plain and simple, a new mother is encouraged to add the egg-dredged, deep-fried-in-sesame-oil Pang Pia, something hearty, delicious into her daily diet just to keep her body cosy and warm.
P.S. Back in 2015, UNESCO enlisted Phuket Town as a City of Gastronomy, making it the youngest city in the world to be celebrated as so. For more information about UNESCO Cities of of Gastronomy, visit https://en.unesco.org/creative-cities/