Monday, June 28, 2010

The girl who ate everything...or almost everything

I have officially reached the one month mark and feel that it is time (past time) to touch upon the spread of food that has been sustaining me through hours of class, climbing trips, and city explorations.

It seems that everything in Thailand has heaps of sugar in it: desserts of course, but soups, noodles, meat dishes also all get a healthy heaping spoonful of brown sugar. Most fruit smoothies have extra sugar and many times a spoonful of salt as well (I have yet to understand why one needs both if they are supposed to balance each other out, wouldn't it be simpler to add neither?) After trying to gulp down a violently red drink that was supposedly "fruit punch" I now ask for no sugar or salt. The mango smoothies are particularly scrumptious as well as the snake fruit ones!

Street food is wonderful, addictive and happily plentiful. Portions are small enough that it is more than easy to justify buying lots. The common refrain has become "come on, I'm in Thailand I should try this and see what it tastes like!" For the most part I haven't been lead astray by following this mentality. The Sunday Walking Street market in the old city is where I loose any form of restraint I might have possessed in the first place. Looking back on the second visit we made to the market makes us (the whole crowd of new PiA-ers) look like complete gluttons. Dinner that night consisted of: Glass noodle Pad-Thai, little cooked quail eggs, coconut water with coconut meat, a mushroom omelet custard, little delicious coconut pancake things, black stick rice cakes with seeds, snake fruit, chocolate covered bananas, chocolate waffles, delicious little slightly spicy leaves made into satchels and filled with dried shrimp, ginger, lime, brown sugar sauce and chilies, fresh squeezed orange juice, a large chicken flat spring roll thing that reminds me of Zanzibar pizza I bought in stone town Zanzibar years ago, and finally a small amount of fresh calamari!

Mango sticky rice has become one of my favorite desserts - fresh mangoes sliced and served over sweetened sticky rice and doused in coconut milk. Mangoes are best at this time of year, which has been excuse enough for me to eat it whenever I have the opportunity…which usually amounts to every other day. Rambutans are also in season and a large bag is only 50 can one say no when walking through the market? (Answer: one doesn’t and just accepts it). Fruit in general here is delicious - there are stands selling unsliced piles of fruit and those selling sliced and bagged fruit ready to consume and kept chilled on ice: sweet pineapple, Asian pears, apples, cantaloupe, bananas, lychees, watermelon, neon green guava - called farange in Thai (also the name for foreigner or white person...not sure I see the resemblance.) In the last week I’ve started to come across stands selling grilled fingerling bananas - absolutely delicious and much healthier then their fried alternative – though those are also delectable.

At school I usually wake up with a green tea shake (tastes similar to iced matcha). For lunch I head to the biology cafeteria (supposedly the best on campus) and choose from a slew of options: large rice noodle soup with pork, brown rice with three stew dishes none of which I really know what they are, but just point at what looks good. There are stir-fried ginger dishes, bamboo shoots, pork curries, tofu and vegetables, fried meats, fish stews, pickled eggs, ground spicy meats. Sometimes I might treat myself and get a coconut water drink with fresh coconut in it. All of this costs less then a dollar combined!

Then there are of course the more culinary adventurous foods, some of which I have worked up the courage to try and some of which I am still pushing myself to chomp down on. Congealed pork blood is common in many dishes, it has very little flavor (that I can distinguish) my issue with it though is the color: grey and the texture: Jell-O like. Then there is the fried pork stomachs that look like deflated whoopee cushions and which I pushed myself to taste after my curiosity got the better of me and I asked the nice lady running the stand what they were. I am happy to report they taste more or less like regular fried pork just a little chewier. Still on my list: insects of all varieties. They are found in piles in the market in all shapes and sizes. None of which though, I have stomached the courage to yet consume, perhaps the by my next post I will have…but I make no promises!

1 comment:

  1. persimmons,fresh and dry...oh, how I miss them. don't know which I like better, the former or latter. Both, yes. dry squids! My snacks for my early years growing up when I had no market prepared consumer snacks like chips, candies like in America. enjoy them all. here in America, they all taste different from the ones I get in those Asian countries.
    lots of love,