Accidentally Poisoning Myself in Bangkok

I get weird about food.

When I was 4, I ate the same simple lunch for 2 years. Peanut butter and crackers or nothing!

When I was 23, I ate the exact same breakfast for a year without fail.

These days, I’m all corn tortilla and lentil tacos for lunch. Load up that homemade guac, of course.

I know what I like when I find it.

And it was no different when I stumbled across a nutty, chewy delicious seed/vegetable thing one of my first months in Thailand. As I normally do with any food item I’m in love with, I started eating it with pretty much every meal.


I look healthy here, right?

Its vaguely hippie dippie name (gingko nut) made me feel like I was eating something both tasty AND good for me.

Plus, it was a super multipurpose ingredient, and I could use it in salads, in curries, and even just pop a bunch as a snack.


see the yellow seed/nut thing with the kidney beans in the dish on the right? that’s what I’m talking about

All good, right?

So I thought.

At the grocery store one day, my friend pointed out my new favorite food and asked if I’d ever tried it.

Excited, I grabbed a few bags for my cart while telling him I’d been eating it every day for about a week.

A bit alarmed, he said, “You know it’s poisonous, right?”

That smacked the smile off my face and the gingko nuts out of my hand. I dropped them like they’d bit me.

“No way,” I cautiously countered, “They’d have to have a warning label. They wouldn’t be mixed in with food items.”

He insisted, “It’s Thailand. I’m telling you, it’s not good to eat a bunch. Google it.”

Terrified, I googled the nuts and raced through the description.

Sure enough, they cause poisoning due to a compound called MPN (4-methoxypyridoxine), resulting in convulsions and death, if you eat more than 5-10 nuts a day. I was eating at least 20 of those damn things a sitting (I’m a weirdo, I know).

Thank god I was at the grocery store that day with my friend, otherwise I might not be writing this today.

Now whenever I try a weird new food, I check the warnings online before making it a part of my weekly grocery list and daily consumption.

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