Over the past few weeks we’ve gone to a number of local markets – the diversity of vegetables, fruit, fish, dead and live animals and cooked dishes is amazing. It is a culinary whirlwind on the senses – flavors, sights and smells. Vendors are chopping, baking, grilling and frantically stirring to get dishes to awaiting customers. The diversity seems endless – there are so many different “priks” or sauces that one can use depending on the exact dish.
This is the first year fruit that is normally only available in large quantities during its “true” season has been available at most of the markets we’ve gone to. Piles of Mangosteens for less than a dollar a kilo, rambutans, langsat, rose apple and to a lesser extent longons. Longons when fresh are vibrant and full of sweetness – most longons you buy at Asian markets around the world are dead with lack of flavor and or the fruit has solidifed or was picked unripe prior to shipping. The smell of fresh ripe jackfruit being cut up and bagged is a treat – it has a tantalizingly aromatic scent.
The one fruit that you won’t find this time of year is lychees – this is one of my top 5 favorite fruits – it is a wonderful fruit that evolves in flavor, constantly changing depending on its age. April or May – so close now!
Fresh pink and white galanga root is all over the vegetable section. So tender you you can actually eat it in Tom Yum soups rather than spitting out the hairy tough detritus of its old and decrepit self at fake Thai restaurants around the world.
Here are a few photos from our visit to a large market in Kabinburi – Eastern Thailand plus our niece and her cousin who came with us to the market: