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Market time

THAILAND | Wednesday, 13 February 2013 | Views [592]

Cock fights, also a part of the market

Cock fights, also a part of the market

Going to the market whether it be in Thailand, in the country, in the city or in Cambodia, is quite an experience and certainly a time for learning about the people, way of life and the wide variety of eating opportunities. The market experience in Chiang Mai included, lots of vegetables, meat all very fresh, some odds and ends, like what you would find in a hardware store in the US,clothing & shoes and of course lots of live fish. Those selling the food are very proud to offer you their produce or meat and always offer a bow of thanks when accepting money for the purchase. Most people when cooking their thai meals go to market everyday. The Market in THong for example starts in the morning about 2 a.m. and the best foods and freshest meat can be found early on. By midday, the heat is building, the sun is strong and most shoppers have purchased the freshest and best available for the day.In Thong I was amazed to watch our host Nuna shopping for the evening meal for her guests. Her technique is quick, efficient and yes effective. She tours through the various rows of produce, visiting briefly with those she knows, yet all the while looking for the freshest or best fruits and vegetables. I am thinking that she creates her menu during this first walk through. On the second walk through it is clear she has an agenda and a menu is formulated in her head. As I walk with her she picks up some nice potatotes and says with a great grin we will have sweet potatoes with my homemade yogurt sauce for an appetizer. We go by the fish and she says oh yes tomorrow we can have fish and chips with fresh catfish. She quickly picks out the finest looking catfish which are swimming in a small tub. The fish literally are hopping into the bag (and in the bag too). We go to the next aisle and nuna chooses an assortment of vegetables, noodles and spices for her main soup dish for the night. Nuna is quickly assessing the quanitity available and determining how much of each item will be needed for the meal we will share that night. All during this 2nd walk through Nuna is exchanging pleasantries with the vendors and saying things like this lady she has the best dandelions you can have, or other similar comments about the offerings in the market. This market experience was a true look at how the thai cook approaches the daily chore of shopping as an opportunity to build a creative work of art that culminates in a delightful mixture of flavors and smells that we call dinner. 

The Cambodian market on the other hand is very very different. We went this morning with our treking guide, Savuth to the major market in Siem Reap. This market is huge yet full of all types of stalls ranging from food, to soft drinks, vegetables and lots of meat. THe market here is full of throngs of people both walking and on motorcycles all vying to use the same narrow walkway. Going through this market causes me to think that maybe I should be a vegetarian. We see lots of flies covering meat that is for sale, lots of dust and dirt is in the air and people are all handling the foods they wish to purchase selecting some and leaVING some for others to purchase (after they have handled everything it makes you wonder where have those hands been).

The third market experience was the market we went to with Nuna and Tony near the Laotian border it was quite a different experience from those mentioned above. People come from all over the country and have come to sell their hand crafted goods, handmade  and woven cloth, of course fruits and vegetaBLES AND THEN OTHER household goods and materials. The person shopping here may be shopping for multiple needs ranging from choosing clothing for a special event, underware, rope, dinner, or even fighting cocks. The day we were there it was clear this is a great opportunity for those in the surrounding villages to share their wares, visit with one another and then cross the border to return home. While visiting this market it is apparent that this is the time that villagers use to connect with one another and to do a little commerce as well. At this market we were the only white people there and quite something for these villagers to see. We were approached by some asking that we take pictures or that they have a chance to practice limited english. Fortuntately there are no wall marts, or targets where we were, and there is no place for that here. In fact, our stores and shopping opportunities are very limited when considering all of the social connections these local folks make and maintain while completing the simple chore of shopping for dinner. Maybe there is a lesson for us all here.

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