It was Friday, the day I dedicated to Thai Foodie Day. This wasn’t my plan, but it’s how it evolved. And what a fabulous day it was! In reality, every day in Thailand can be foodie day, but today I gained a lot of knowledge of the culture, especially pertaining to the food the Thai people eat.
I began the morning with my new friend Niti, the host of the Chiang Mai Fresh Market Tour. This event was a tour of the morning market and so much more! Niti gave me insight for what I was seeing in the market and so much to appreciate about local Thai life and the important aspect of life the fresh market fulfills. She gifted me with a fabulous breakfast including Thai coffee, tea and the butter bread of Portuguese influence. Then after perusing, studying and shopping the market, we had a lovely lunch together in a beautiful park! I was far over fed and there were plenty of leftovers for her to take to the chefs at her cooking school.
Past breakfast time, Niti had me try what she called a century egg, emphasizing that I must try it before she tells me what it is. The egg begins rather suspect nestled in its carton donning its flamboyant pink splendored shell! It’s like the Cyndi Lauper of eggs. Then once the vendor peels it, halves it and serves it in a bowl, the curiosity grows. As you can see, you have never eaten an egg quite like this before. It really was tasty I have to admit. Now time for the big reveal. <Spoiler Alert: century egg preparation coming!>
So the wondrous century egg, highly regarded as a medicinal food, is made by storing eggs in a clay pot underground for one hundred days. Hence the century reference. In horse pee. Yes, horse pee. Students of natural medicine have certainly heard often the medicinal and cleansing affects of ammonia. The idea of the century egg as medicine follows that line of thought. Honestly? I am far more prone to Thai medicinal foods than some of what we Americans have come to consider food. I’ll leave you to ponder this.
Next we walked through the market, Niti showing me things as we went. The market is at least as much social gathering The fresh market, just as one infers, offers foods prepared or harvested fresh for purchase. A flash market refers to a vendors on-the-spot cook to order menu. This may help explain why eating Thai street food is generally safe: the Thai people seem to have one cooking temperature: HIGH! When you order Khao Soi or Pad Thai from a street vendor, it is generally cooked right before your eyes at maximum heat. My understanding is that the term street food can differ in the the vendors offering street food are offering items that did not sell earlier in the day, so they have them on display, sausages for instance, and they grill them to high temperature as you wait.
In the end it was so hard to choose what to select to eat. Niti helped me and we ended up with a very nice lunch with a lot to share.
What a fantastic experience this was! I gained so much more than just a great breakfast! Cultural insight, history, a full belly and a new friend!