|timid eater no more|
Ok. From Bangkok, which I wrote about in the last post, Isabel and I drove to Chiang Mai, the big city in northern Thailand. Three days. Seventy thousand calories. When he wasn't showing us temples, Mongkol, our guide, kept feeding us. He bought us wonderful fruits I'd never even heard of and salted puffed rice snacks drizzled with caramel and green puffed rice squares that tasted like Kellogg's Sugar Smacks. We tried grass jelly, dried bananas, and fried bananas. Pink cupcakes and fluffy eggy cupcakes. Barbecued duck and barbecued pork. If I asked what something was, he'd buy it and then we'd eat it and even if I didn't ask what something was, he'd sometimes buy it anyway. By the end of the journey I felt like a foie gras goose and became cautious with my questions lest I end up with something else to eat. This is the kind of "problem" you want on a tour. He was the best guide ever and if you go to Thailand, email me at email@example.com for his contact info.
|an ancient Buddha head around which a tree trunk had grown|
|At one temple we saw an extensive display of life-size statues of people suffering for their misdeeds. This didn't jibe with my admittedly shallow understanding of Buddhism.|
The strands of caramel were tucked inside the crepes to create a textural combination that is totally foreign to the American palate: Soft, petal-like pancakes containing crispy strands of sugar. First bite was puzzling, but you wanted a second bite, and a third, and later Isabel ate the remainder of our crepes and candy floss in the hotel room.
At the century-old Samchuk market, Mongkol introduced us to these freakishly big meatballs with the smooth consistency of hot dogs:
|They look like bread, but were pure protein and extremely heavy. I almost dropped the skewer when I tried to hold it upright.|
|another Samchuk specialty: rice wrapped in lotus leaf with chicken, egg yolk, and vegetables|
One morning, not long after breakfast, we stopped for a mid-morning snack of multi-colored rice vermicelli that came with six types of curry, including a sweet peanut curry, a mild chicken coconut curry, and a fiery pork curry. You ladled some curry on a small nest of vermicelli and popped the whole thing in your mouth. This meal managed to be both filling and refreshing,
Right after we'd finished, Mongkok decided it was time for us to try some noodle soup at another restaurant, our second mid-morning snack for the day.
|all colors tasted the same|
|just some of the things they put in the noodle soup|
We could not do justice to this fantastic soup.
|my noodle soup (egg noodles)|
|The ubiquitous condiments at a Thai noodle shop include chili, vinegar, turbinado sugar, and fish sauce. I generally added a little of everything while Isabel didn't add anything.|
|I didn't ask what this was as I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to try it.|
They were cute for about 30 seconds, then scary.