Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Kong Fak ของฝาก
Kong Fak ของฝาก is basically the Thai term for "souvenir" or "gift". Anytime you go to another "changwat" or province (there are something like 76 changwats in Thailand) you run into roadside stands selling the changwat's best known products, especially foods.The foods are usually displayed, stuffed into huge, clear plastic bags and are purchased by the kilogram.Every area in the Kingdom has something that it is famous for. The north has northern sausage ไส้อั่ว, fried pig skins แคบหมู and namprik num (shredded chili peppers to dip the pig skins in) น้ำพริกหนุ่ม... The northeast is famous for its pickled sausage แหนม, shredded pork หมูหยอง and mu yeoh (processed pork, black pepper, spices stuffed into a banana leaf)...etc.When we went to Bang Sen this weekend, we ran into such a stand selling all sorts of dried and preserved fish and seafood. You can see from the photo that it was late in the evening and that there were literally hundreds of bags of fishy snacks! There was also a "stand" selling all kinds of rice, beans, banana, coconut and other things mixed together and stuffed into bamboo.We stopped for what would end up being about 45 minutes of tasting and testing and buying "kong fak" for the family back home. While the other eight tasted, I played with a kitten.I'm still getting used to the kong fak thing, even when I lived in the states I never bought or brought souvenirs for family or friends. Maybe I'm a scrooge or a grinch, not sure! I mean, kong fak is a cultural type of thing, almost an unspoken type thing that everyone does. Like when people in an office go to buy a soda, they get one for everyone, me, I just get one for myself and often get stares for it. Same with food...I'll be biking to the mini mart in Ubon and some random grandma on the side of the road will smile and ask if I ate yet...If I say no, then she would share her single portion of food with me. I've learned to buy extra food when there are lots of people around (and to hide care packages from home! I'm such a meanie!!)Funny side story...when Pae and I eat we'll order like 5 dishes for dinner. When family visits Bangkok and we take them to our favorite eating establishment, we order the same 5 dishes and share between 6 of us! The two of us are eating machines!