Local Market Heaven
One of the many favorite things I have about Thailand is shopping for food at the local markets. Thailand is brimming with all sorts of markets selling everything from engine parts, to herbal medicine, to clothing, to Buddha amulets, to food.
Today I will focus on food.
My local market is between Canal and Hang Dong Road, but honestly, I don’t know its name. It is on my way home from work and is most active on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Upon entering there is usually a little Je or vegetarian stall where I almost always make a purchase of salai – seaweed, khao niaow mamuang – mango with sticky rice, sometimes a salad, sometimes the mushrooms that look like and have the texture of meat, sometimes a spicy dish with fried tofu, it’s different and tasty every time.
Even though I’ve lived here for a while now, I still have a bit of reverse sticker shock with how cheap food is. At the moment it is 31 baht = $1 USD. Here are several examples, but by no means all, of the food available at the market on any given day.
There is so much more available: prepared food that looks and smells delicious, but is almost never vegetarian. I’ve bought perfect vegetarian fried spring rolls for 5 baht each. The meat skewers always smell wonderful, but worry me when I see the flies attracted to them. The curries almost always have pork, chicken, or my least favorite – the coagulated blood chunks. I ask if things are vegetarian and I even try a lot of food that isn’t, but certain things I still can’t eat. I ate the coagulated blood in a chicken curry once at a friend’s house and almost gagged. I thought it was a mushroom. It took all my composure to swallow and not spit it out. My friend loves it.
Although I can’t deal with meat, I do consistently expand my food assemblage by trying new fruits and vegetables each time I go to the market. That in itself should keep me occupied for quite some time.
The nice things about this particular open market are: it’s never too crowded, though there are always a bunch of people, and I am usually one of 2, at the most, foreigners. The variety of pungent scents that accompany so many Asian markets, is kept to a minimum. People are friendly. Thai people at this market are starting to recognize me and that feels very welcoming. Prices are ridiculously cheap!
My usual cost of dinner, cooked and ready to go in a plastic 😦 bag always sealed impossibly quickly and tightly wrapped with a rubber band: 20 – 40 baht. If I cook dinner myself with local ingredients the cost is similar. If I go to the grocery store to buy foreign food, the price escalates significantly. As the weather gets hotter, and the novelty of having a kitchen is wearing off, I find myself eating street or market food on a more regular basis. The way I see it, what’s wrong with that? It’s Thailand, the food can be healthy, and undoubtedly is always delicious. Aroy maak! อร่อยมาก!