Real Food Shopping in the Land of Smiles

After an amazing trip around Thailand, it seems unfair to keep the never-ending culinary pleasures all to myself.

From the lovely green tropical island of Koh Samui in the South, to Bangkok, the heart of the country in every sense of the word, and Chiang Mai which was once capital of the Lanna Kingdom in the North, every inch of Thailand is covered with food.

(Warning: if you are hungry or allergic to vibrant colours, please stay away from the following images)

Roadside distraction in Koh Samui

One can easily understand Thai people’s obsession about food, and the vast diversity within the Thai cuisine itself. There is an abundant supply of top quality fresh ingredients on every street corner, giving flavour to the simplest dishes.

Mangoes galore at Mae Varee, Thonglor, Bangkok (Ok Rong/Nam Dok Mai varieties)

As one would expect, fruit is widely available in shops, roadside shacks, and even from the back of make-shift lorries.

Coconut on the go, Sukhumvit, Bangkok

One would rarely find frozen pizza shoved in the microwave or any other processed food in a Thai home kitchen. Wet market is always within easy reach, and therefore no excuse to settle for anything less than real food.

The egg lady @ Sunday Night Market, Tha Phae Gate, Chiang Mai

Fresh lotus seed pods, Sunday Night Market, Chiang Mai

Fresh produce at local market, Chiang Mai

Nothing can replace the sheer joy you feel walking around a living and working market. The smell, the colours, the noise and all the activities simply inspire one to think of the many ways you can serve the fresh produce straight from the local farms on a plate. The Thais are so lucky to be truly buying and eating local.

Makua – Thai eggplants in various shapes and sizes

As the availability of local produce heavily influences Thai cuisine, you will find that dishes often incorporate coconut milk/cream in the Southern/Central parts of the country, where coconuts can be found in abundance, while the Northern dishes usually comes in clear broth or with a sharper taste due to the generous amount of spices and herbs used.

Galangal (kha) commonly used in many soups and curry pastes

All the roots you will need, big and small

To add the distinctively Thai flavour to fresh ingredients, you will also find various types of spices, herbs, sauces and pastes in the market. The heady aroma just adds to the experience of getting utterly lost in this foodie maze.

Shrimps in various dried forms, and the infamous but oh-so-delicious shrimp paste

Green, red, Namya, sour curry pastes

And lastly, the heart of all Asian cuisine, rice. Served with any dish and it always tastes great.

All kinds of rice – white, brown, red, black, plain, sticky…

We are blessed in most parts of Asia to have great wet markets, and with all this fun who wants to go back to grocery shopping in characterless supermarkets? Even better, there is a surge of farmers markets around town recently, and I am especially excited for Island East Markets that’s launching this Autumn by my dear friends Vince and Janice.

Learn from the best eaters in this part of the world. Support your farmers. Buy local, eat organic.

P.S. Please don’t get too jealous for the posts to follow, mostly on what I have eaten/cooked around the Amazing Thailand. Stay tuned.


About Patricia

Born in Hong Kong and studied in England for most of her life. Transplanted herself to Tokyo, New York and finally back to her root. Having treated her taste buds to the best of these continents have to offer, she has decided to invite others to join her on her gastronomic voyage. Full-time food lover, part-time cook who wants to enjoy the pleasures of life, mostly at the dining table.
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