Saturday, March 26, 2011

A stroll through the market

Passed through a little market the other day on my way to have wedding invitations printed. This is one of the cool things about living over here, food everywhere. You could seriously go a year without ever buying food at a grocery store.Anyone for some fish head stew? Well, this soup seller was definitely popular for the size of her fish head. The stew is in the giant vat under the fish heads that are arranged so carefully after being fried with herbs. I'm sure the rest of the fish went to good use somewhere else in the market. Actually, right across from her was a man selling fish and clams, so perhaps they worked together. I imagine that she may go down to the pre-dawn seafood market to get the best pick of the freshest, largest fish heads everyday before opening up shop! You take your stew home in a plastic bag, mixed up together, and bound with a tiny rubber band. Almost everything you buy on the street here is clear plastic bagged and rubber banded shut. Here is a picture of some yummy fruit and vegetables, freshly picked of course. Bananas and various veggies, all ready to be whipped up into a scrumptious meal! I was looking at the picture of veggies and noticed something cool, or at least I though it was cool. Many of the vegetables shown have a common "word part" in Thai. Many of them contain the word "ma keua"...or I guess you could say that they are all different types of "ma keua". Hmmm, the dictionary says "ma keua" means "eggplant". Tomato is "ma keua tet" meaning "foreign eggplant" hahaha, of "alien eggplant". The long zucchini-like veggies in the picture are actually called eggplant here, but they are long, so they are called "ma keua yao", "yao" meaning long. The little round ones are just called "ma keua" even though they bare no resemblance of eggplant to me. The typical western eggplant, the purple one, is called "purple eggplant" here, or "ma keua muang". There are a few more veggies in this picture that I'm not familiar with. They may be types of "ma keua" who knows!Mangoes here are eaten many different ways. Americans will be familiar with Mango Sticky Rice, a western favorite. Here, you see a mango sticky rice cart every now and then, I think there are two on our soi. We'll only eat it once or twice a year though. Preferred here are various levels of ripeness of the mango. The picture looks like mangoes that will be chopped up and eaten sweet, or even on sticky rice with coconut milk. Mango is used as a flavoring here, mostly for SOUR! We, Pae actually, loves green unripe mango dipped in sauces made from shrimp paste. I like the mango that is about half ripe, a subtle yellowish color, so it's sweet but mostly sour and eaten alone, sliced into long slices. Love mango!!This picture is one of my that I would use in class to see if the kids can either give me the proverbial "1,000 words" or to see if they can notice anything queer about the picture given. Well, this was a woman selling chicken, obviously. She has presented them pretty much as nicely as you can present a piece of dead animal. What I thought was weird, or what got me curious, was that these are all the left half of the chicken. There are no right halves. I didn't think at the time to ask the lady where the right halves were.And for our final photo, something you'll see at most dinner tables all around Thailand, Somtam (papaya salad) and clams. Somtam is a Northeastern (Isaan) food. (Thailand is broken up into four main areas; North = Neua, South = Dai, Northeast = Isaan, Bangkok area = Glang) Not a day goes by in Isaan that somtam is not eaten, like rice in Japan, somtam is just what we eat up in the northeast. It is of course prepared hundreds of different ways, so there is a variety. Pae is partial to "somtam bubrala" which is your unripe papaya, hot chili peppers, long beans, tomatoes, pickled crabs and "brala" or, well, I'm still not sure what brala is...I don't eat it anymore. I used to eat it when I was new here and trying to be polite when visiting family. I just don't really like the flavor though. I prefer my somtam to be sour and a little bit sweet, with peanuts and dried shrimp "somtam Thai". A great starter somtam and probably what is served in most Thai restaurants in America.

The clams in the picture are usually steamed. The funny thing about this type of clam is that they have blood inside. When steamed properly, the blood just stays inside and the clam is very tender and moist. If too chewy, not yummy, so I'm told by Pae and her brother. I don't eat this type of clam, just can't get past the blood. The clam is dipped in a spicy seafood dipping sauce called "nam jim talay". "Nam" means water, "jim" means to dip, and "talay" means the sea. SO, it's a seafood dipping sauce! Regular "nam jim" is used with most meats like grilled pork or chicken, beef, satay, and even fruits and toast are dipped into sauces. A little Thai language lesson for the day.

Oh, the prices on the foods in the photos are all Thai Baht (THB) per kilogram. The exchange rate is at about 30 THB to 1 USD right now. And a kilo is 2.2 pounds, duh. ;)

Well, hope you enjoyed the little stroll through the market. I did. Until next time, love to all.

1 comment:

Pae and Guy said...

I was wrong, the bananas are not sold by kilo...they are sold by the "wi" or bunch :)

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