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.


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.