Thai mango sticky rice sales soar after sweet Coachella cameo | Thailand

Bangkok’s famous Mae Varee mango sticky rice shop has barely kept up with demand for the past few days. At one point, so many delivery drivers lined up outside to collect orders that police arrived, worried that their bikes were blocking traffic.

“Yesterday we had to close delivery orders from time to time because we couldn’t prepare them [the rice] on time,” said Naparom Suntiparadorn, whose family owns the shop. On Sundays, delivery orders were six or seven times higher than usual.

The furore came after 19-year-old rapper Milli became the first Thai to perform solo at the Coachella festival in California, and marked the occasion by eating a sweet treat on stage.

Her performances, including the way she mocked cliché stereotypes about Thailand (“I don’t ride elephants”) and the Thai government, earned applause from many young Thais. “The country is good, the people are good, our food is good but the government is good [rotten],” she says.

Across Thailand, demand for mango sticky rice, one of the country’s most famous desserts, has skyrocketed. One popular food delivery app told Thai media that orders more than tripled within 24 hours of Milli’s appearance. Social media has been filled with images of the dessert: one meme replaces the Bangkok Democracy Monument with a huge one mound of glutinous riceprotected by four pieces of mango.

The government has sought to capitalize on the trend, despite Milli’s strong criticism of his leadership. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, said the culture ministry could propose the recognition of mango sticky rice – khao nieo mamuang, in Thailand – as a Thai cultural heritage through Unesco.

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“It is important for Thailand to use its soft power overseas. We have a lot of resources that can be promoted on the international stage,” Prayuth said, according to the Bangkok Post.

Awkwardly for Prayut, last year Milli – whose real name is Danupha Khanatheerakul – was fined 2,000 baht (about £45) for “public insult” after she criticized the government’s response to Covid.

However, for a shop selling desserts, the buzz is a relief. Prior to the pandemic, most of Mae Varee’s customers were tourists, Naparom said, but had relied on local customers as the travel sector had not recovered.

He says his shop uses the best ingredients from around the country. “Rice must be in perfect condition, without cracks. We clean it well and steam it. Coconut comes from Surat Thani province. We boil it. It tastes sweet, but not too sweet, and is aromatic. Our mangoes are also flavorful. It has a naturally sweet taste. Our signature is that we sprinkle crunchy green beans on top.”

Naparom would welcome Unesco’s acknowledgment. “I think it’s like a Thai massage where you have to come to Thailand to feel it,” he said. “It won’t taste the same if you eat it elsewhere.”

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