Going to the market is an everyday event for me in Thailand. The grocery store is a long bike ride and carrying too many items on my bike is an inconvenience. Not to mention my apartment lacks a stove, microwave, or any type of device that makes food hotter. Given the abundance of cheap street food and a culture that prides itself on prepared cuisine, my apartment’s lack of food preparing appliances is not uncommon. So everyday I can choose between buying food from a street vendor and sitting on their lawn furniture, or hunting in the market to take a bag of food home.
I usually get out of work at 3:30 to 4pm with plans to meet my expat friends for dinner around 7 to 7:30pm. Like most people I want to have a bit of a snack when I leave work, so I frequent the market for this mid-afternoon meal. This gives me an opportunity to try exotic foods as well as practice my Thai.
I have recently learned how to ask What is this? In Thai, which is a very useful phrase for a trip to the market. However, I am not good at understanding the vendor’s response. Which makes the phrase far less useful. Because of this I often have to play market roulette.
Most often I get some sort of pork or chicken stir-fry style dish, but on my more adventurous trips I pick things at random. Sometimes randomly pointing at a dish turns out well, other times not so well. The following three foods were all picked within the last week. I have labeled them Good, Bad, and Strange, but know that all have a very different taste than anything you would get in the US.
A Thai ice cream sandwich. A delicious sugar bomb with no nutritional redeeming qualities. This is a white hot dog bun topped with sticky rice and vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with peanuts and drizzled with condensed milk. At a price of 10 baht (30 cents) it is way too easy to rock two or three in one sitting. Plus the cold ice cream is great here in the tropics.
I bought a bag of this mix thinking I would get some sort of fried, crispy noodle pieces stuck together with chili paste. I was mistaken.
When I got back to my apartment I noticed the crispy noodle pieces had a strange texture. Further examination was required. I then realized that the fried pieces were actually lightly battered minnows. This was after eating 7 or 8 of them. I’m a little slow sometimes…
I know some people dig their anchovies, and I suppose everything is potentially edible, but I was not having the minnows. The sobering realization of what I was eating was enough to kill my appetite.
This last one was bought from a pastry shop right by the market. From the outside it appeared to be a stuffed donut. My first bite told me otherwise.
The pastry had the taste and texture of a plain dinner roll. The top was coated with hyper-sweet large sugar granules, and a thick cream. The inside was filled with steamed corn.
No explanation, I think the Thais just love corn.