Drink (Condensed) Milk from Bag through a Straw

Very Very Spicy Red Curry!

So I haven't had a post about food yet. I have been here almost exactly three months and there has yet to be an entire entry decicated to food and food alone.

I've been sick the past couple of weeks and lost all enthusiasm for Thailand. Literally every ounce of positivity was suck out of me dementor style.  I was tired and achy with a horrible runny nose, stopped up ears and a cough that quite possibly woke up my neighbors. Getting in front of 37 small Thai children acting happy and peppy was the last thing I wanted to do. But, thankfully I made it through the week and quarantined myself to my room and slept the weekend away. It is now Monday and I feel like a million bucks compared to weeks passed!

So I figured this would be a good time to remember some of the things I truely am happy and thankful for here in Thailand. It is easy to look at all the breathtaking pictures from weekend travels and think I'm living the life. But, in reality I live in pretty smelly and dirty town (sewage, trash, stray dogs galore) and my job is never really easy to figure out. It never stays the same and randomly I'm asked to come in and work on the weekends (nevermind the fact that I already have weekend reservations/plans...)

But enough of that. On the topic at hand: Food. Food and I have a love hate relationship here. Thais always use high sodium sauces, fish and shrimp paste, sugar and extremely low grade oil, but if you can look passed all of that you can find some really delicious food. The most amazing thing about Thailand's food is that kitchens are nonexistent. If you wanted to open up a restaurant here buy a wok and a rice cooker, put it on a set of wheels, buy a few plastic chairs and tables and you are good to go.

Vegetarian Lady chopping ginger and bitter melon
I will start with my lunch spot: Vegetarian lady as we all call her. She is one of my most favorite people I've met since I've been here in Thailand. I go eat lunch at her restaurant Monday-Friday without fail. Through my very few Thai words and many many hand gestures we manage to have broken conversations every day. She told me one day that I'd officially become like a Thai person, because I made my food very spicy. Each day I ask for "chow" (rice) and pick two toppings from the clear glass case. Every day the dishes are different: curries, spicy greens, tofu prepared more ways than you can imagine, pineapple dishes, ginger dishes and too many more to name. While I eat each day, I watch them cut up the millions of vegetables being prepped for tomorrows case: eggplant, ginger, greens, radishes, potatoes, pumpkin, lemongrass, cabbage to name a few. My favorites so far are the Japanese pumpkin curries and this yummy pineapple spicy dish.

Everyone else loves the soup. It is delicious and is made right in front of you. They use colander type contraptions to lower rice noodles, greens, mug bean sprouts, daikon type veggie and lots of tofu into a big boiling cauldron and then add everything together to make a yummy steaming soup.
Always: Sugar, Red Pepper & Soy Sauce w/ Chilies & Vinegar w/ Chilies (This was special w/ limes & peanuts!)
Sour Mango
Recently I've been treating myself to a post lunch treat of sour mango. At home if I happen to cut up a mango and it isn't quite ripe I get mad. It tastes gross and ruins the whole salad. Here under ripe mango tastes like sour candy (I don't even like sour candy, but this is amazing!). They are crunchy and sweet and sour at the same time. Thai people use a wooden stick and dip the mango slices into a mixture of chilies, sugar and salt. I kindly say no thanks to the sugar salt spice packet!

As you will see as the post continues Thais are big on plastic bags, sticks and straws. The fruit stands are found all throughout the city and normally walk around ringing a bell--like an ice cream truck. They use incredibly sharp knifes and chop the fruit into this funnel like metal contraption and then slide the fruit straight into a bag, add your wooden stick and you are good to go! All for about 60 cents: you can get a whole pineapple, mango, papaya, guava or watermelon most times of the year here!
Next on to the coffee shops. Really I could make an entire post dedicated to just beverages that I love in the country: fruit juices, americanos and coconut water sums it up nicely. Drip coffee is almost nonexistent here. You either have nescafe or an espresso machine. Before I came I was told I'd never be more than 100 meters from an espresso machine. I thought "no way!" But truth be told, this is 100% true! Coffee shops are on every corner and sell every coffee, tea and fruit concoction possible all with a nice touch of condensed milk to call the beverage complete in the eyes of Thais. Thais are obsessed with condensed milk. It goes into all the above beverages as well as on waffles, in cookies and even sometimes in entree dishes. Really it is "when in doubt add condense milk!" Thankfully I've learned out to say no milk, no sugar and enjoy a black iced americano daily! (sometimes 2..) 
Favorite afternoon coffee spot
Favorite Morning Coffee Spot
Below are the earlier mentioned fruit juices. Once again I've learned to ask for nit nawy (little) or no sugar and they transform into amazing afternoon snacks or yummy beach cocktails. My favorite combo so far is orange-carrot which I can get at the night market for about 10cents!

And this--best drink in Thailand: Fresh coconut juice! Yum. Can't go wrong here! Cold, delicious and afterwards you can use a spoon to scrape out all the delicious coconut meat inside!
Below are pictures from the night market. The night market happens every single night and it is about a ten minute walk from my house. It also conveniently located right next to the running park, so in perfect blog world: after our nightly runs we can pick up something quick and healthy for dinner. (running portion doesn't always happen.) The market sells everything: fish, fruit, dolls, vegetables, soups, sushi, cakes, drinks, fresh herbs (and most of the mentioned options are also conviently served w/ condensed milk or on a stick and offered in a "to go version" in a bag)--really anything you can think of it is there.

One of our favorite spots is Padi Thai guy and his wife. This is him in action on our very first trip to the night market. His wife makes delicious som tum too! Som tum is spicy papaya salad. And as you can see she is conveniently making a "to go" bag version of som tum.

Padi Thai Guy
Spicy Papaya Salad: All made in a wooden mortar and pestle (you can say how many red chilies you want to add in!)
Popular Stick Method: Waffles on a Stick
Every day my kids (and all the kids in the school) drink milk. Sounds pretty normal, but actually kind of bizarre seeming the first couple weeks. In Thailand people drink beverages out of bags a lot. Milk, soda, coffee you name it and it can be put in a bag. After they pray, we walk by cutting small slits in the top and then they jam in a small straws (told you straws were popular). If you are going to drink a beverages in Thailand you will drink it from a straw. Even if it is a bottle of water, a canned coke, a beer etc. The top of these cans, bottles and cups will not touch your mouth! Straws are a big deal....

Keng on Milk Break!

I will have to make another food post later on. I don't want overwhelm you too much! But, I have so much more I could talk about: strange Thai customs, delicious thai meals and of course Esther's infamous rice cooker meals. Don't worry everyone, I still have dinner parties! Instead of an amazing dining room table we sit on the floor using a sheet (the same one taken to many a outside picnic in Memphis.) and instead of a great gas range everything is prepared in one small contraption: the much beloved and hated rice cooker....

1 comment:

  1. Ej! I love reading your blog- can we please have a picture of you drinking something out of a bag or eating fruit on a stick? Miss you! ps. Keng is the cutest thing I have ever seen. xoxo-Sarah K.