Saturday, November 26, 2005

Catchup Chronicles #6: Chiang Mai, Thailand

I wish I had started this blog about four years ago, when I really started to give my passport and frequent flier accounts a workout, going to new places around the world. Well, in an effort to try to make up for some of that, I've dug up some old photos that I've taken, and will post them here in sections from time to time (especially when I don't see any upcoming travel for a while). This episode: Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Papaya Salad - notice the salted crab legs

Of course, eating off the streets in Thailand is a requisite task. Here is a great papaya salad made from scratch by a street vendor with chili, fish sauce, unripe papaya, dried shrimp, limes, string beans, peanuts, and these (optional) little pickled crabs, still in their shells and carrying quite a salty gooey punch (check out those little dark crab legs in the photo). All of this is thrown into a mortar so that the flavors can blend together with the help of a giant pestle.

Northern Thai sausages at the market

But what's more interesting about Chiang Mai is the huge number of cooking schools in the city. We found a really cool one where the lady basically takes you to the local market to buy supplies, and then takes you to her house where you cook at your own station in the backyard. It's a "mom & pop shop" in the true sense of the word. We took a short half-day all-time favorites course (four day classes are available too), which included tom yum soup, green curry, pad thai, and mango sticky rice.

Fresh veggies at the market, including the notorious mouse dropping chilis

Dried Maggots??On that note, the market was of course full of fresh veggies and those notorious mouse dropping chilis. I picked up some northern Thai sausages from the market too (a bit too many spices in my opinion, but still good). But I didn't quite get around to trying what I think were dried maggots (!). Anyway, definitely do a cooking school next time you're in Chiang Mai. It's a lot of fun, very cultural, and best of all - you get to eat the food after you're done cooking. :)


venitha said...

Perfect timing, as we leave for Chiang Mai on Thursday! Any other pictures you want to unearth before then? We'll definitely be taking a cooking class - I can't wait - and eating LOTS of som tam salads. Yum!

bma said...

I don't have any more photos, but while you're up there, be sure to try the kao soi, a northern Thailand speciality of crispy noodles in a light curry (I have a photo here, although that was at a shop in Bangkok). Another northern speciality (especially the closer you get to Laos) is pla ra, which is a fermented salty fish thing. It's pretty potent with a really heavy stank though, so beware.