We went to our favorite Thai restaurant on Friday, and I ordered the papaya salad lao style. It was tasty, complicated, and (of course) extremely spicy. We had a ton of food at the table, so I thought I'd save most of it for leftovers, when I could pair it with a glass of milk.
Today, I notice something crunchy in the salad. I find what looks like a piece of crab shell. Digging deeper, I find an entire claw, more crab shell, a giant olive pit, and what appeared to be papaya skins. It seemed like everything that had been separated out of the ingredients had accidentally been reincorporated.
So I called the restaurant, and the owner's daughter explained that the skins were olive skins, and that this is the authentic preparation. Because so many restaurants exclude the crab and olive to cut costs, customers want to see that stuff in the salad.
Has anyone encountered this? This place is very professional, and serves excellent food, so I have no reason to doubt the explanation. But why would customers demand the inclusion of inedible (not to mention sharp) items in their food? Is this just the tradition that goes along with the dish?