Aroi Mak Mak
Most Thai dishes balance four key flavors: salty, sour, spicy, and sweet. Fish sauce is most commonly used for the salty component. This sauce is made by fermenting fish in jars. Once pungent and salty, the fish is removed, leaving behind a liquid that is used in cooking. Kaffir limes provide sourness, chilies add spice, and coconuts and pineapple often add sweetness. These flavors, along with various meats and vegetables, form classic Thai dishes such as curries, or stews, that can range from mild to very spicy.
Around the world, markets are fantastic places for visitors to explore local cuisine. Fresh markets are typically divided into two sections: dry and wet. In the dry section, you can find everything from local spices to fresh produce. Passing fruit stands stacked with sweet papayas, brilliant green limes, and fragrant guavas is a complete sensory overload for me. Mmmm…delicious – or “Aroi Mak Mak!” in Thai!
The wet market is reserved for fish, butcher shops, and various “smelly” goods. When face-to-face with bins full of scorpions and silkworms, lunch is the furthest thing from my mind. If the thought of entomophagy (the scientific word for eating insects) grosses you out, you should know that more than half of the world’s population eat insects on a regular basis. In Thailand, deep fried water bugs are a delicacy, and in México, chapulines, or grasshoppers, covered in salt, lime, and chili are a popular snack food.
Some of Thailand’s more popular markets are floating markets. Here, vendors sell goods and produce out of klong boats or long, narrow boats, similar to the gondolas of Venice, Italy. One of the most popular floating markets is Damnoen Saduak, which has become a major tourist destination. Sounds like a perfect opportunity for a sunset dinner cruise with a big bowl of tasty noodles.