Sunday, October 4, 2009

There seems to be a dilemma when making a meal in Thailand. There are many options.

The easiest, of course, is to simply go to the market and buy some food to take home. This may seem ridiculous, but it is actually easier and cheaper than any other option. One can get almost any dish on the street for less than 50 baht (a couple dollars). Almost any meal can be bought in any market packaged in endless large and small plastic bags for the purpose of your enjoyment at home: rice and chicken with broth, sauce and cucumbers; any variety of curry; stir fried noodles with all of the appropriate condiments; anything. This is not exactly making a meal, but creating a meal to be brought together at home.

The other option at the opposite end of the spectrum is to go to any of the a/c supplied superstores popping out of the red earth like frogs appearing after a hard rain. Central, Big C, Lotus and Carrefoure are the places to shop if you want hygienically packaged meats, 20 varieties of hot dogs and veggies good enough to pose for Japanese wax food models. Unfortunately, while shopping and paying for this experience, there is the image of the outdoor market playing in your head and you realize that 1. you are getting ripped off, and 2. it is no fun. There is no haggling, no shoving, no motorcycles to dodge, no deft stepping, knowing that there is just 1 cm of open aired flip flop rubber between you and the market muck of the fish scales and pork blood.

Creating a meal at the market is fun in many ways. The challenge is keeping your meal defined in your head while keeping your head from being decapitated from the Thai head high umbrellas. If you are not careful, you will go with an idea for a meal and you may come back with a disparate variety of ingredients and way too many sweets for one family to eat.

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