Bright colors–of vegetables and cow guts.
Fried toad. Live toad.
Crustaceans and catfish.
And all the locals supplying and buying the goods.
On a down day during our stay in rural Chiang Rai Province, I set out with a couple of the boys I was chaperoning to visit the local market. Thai cuisine is legendary for its spice and umami. It’s no wonder that the market supplying the ingredients would offer rich and compelling slices of life from this part of the world.
We were staying in the small town of Thoeng, the hopping off point for our visits to our sister school as well as visits to other area sites. A couple of students and I walked out in the hot, hot sun, ducking under awnings along the sidewalk when possible past small electronic stores, clothing stores, and convenience stores.
A temple in the middle of town stood out as perhaps the most notable structure.
We then headed to the market. And after walking the few blocks, we discovered that beyond the front tables of breads and cooked chicken were the rawer aspects of culinary culture in Thailand.
It started with fruits and veggies.
Okay, not just fruits and vegetables. Hats above and catfish here:
But mainly it was plant food of every color of the rainbow.
The pattern of this place was that the further back you went, the more interesting things got. And in the back row of tables were these delicacies:
I bought some carrots, for I actually found them to be rare in Thai cuisine.
Adjacent to the produce market was the wet market. The two students and I swam in that direction for a look at the impressive selection of seafood. We were nowhere near an ocean. Yet they had these specimens for sale:
Within the scene were locals exchanging bills for fins with a soundtrack of a generator powering the oxygen.
It was a real, raw look at grocery shopping in this part of the world.
Enjoy some footage to visit this place yourself: