Som tam contest awards points for cleanliness

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With a message that cleanliness is next to tastiness, Pattaya’s deputy mayor led a panel of judges to pick the city’s best Thai spicy papaya salad.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh presided over the contest during the July 24 Sea, Sand & Sun cultural fair, stressing that som tam may be a favorite among Thai tourists, but if its prepared in unsanitary conditions, it can lead to food poisoning and damage to the city’s reputation.

The winner took home a 3,000 baht prize, with 2,000 baht going to second-place finisher and 1,000 baht to the third place winner.

The winners and dancers pose for the press. The winners and dancers pose for the press.

Dishes were judged not only on taste, but their beauty and the cleanliness of their preparation.

Ronakit said the competition was a fun way to educate food vendors about the need for sanitary preparation and showing the public street food in Pattaya is safe to eat.

Som tam is prepared by mixing slices of raw papaya in a mortar with tomatoes, garlic, shrimp and chili. It’s then zinged up with the addition of fish sauce or pickled crabs. It’s generally eaten along with sticky rice and grilled chicken.