This Ain't Yo Mama's Grocery Store
As a child I always loved grocery trips with my mom. Standing on the back of the cart, running through the aisles, grabbing the best snacks for school - Sunny D and Dunkaroos obviously. Then, on my own, in college I was forced to take grocery shopping a little more seriously since I was in charge of my own diet. But even then I found it fun - trying out new recipes for "family" dinner with the O3 crew was always an adventure. As my years in college flew by, I found myself studying in Italy where a new shopping experience was thrown upon me. Not only could I not speak the language, but I couldn't find any products I had grown up eating - where were the Fruit Loops? the Tropicana? the Boar's Head deli meats? Shopping through Florence became a fun daily activity, however. I would stop at the vegetable stand on the corner next to my apartment and grab a bunch of asparagus, some fresh tomatoes, and maybe an apple for breakfast the next day. I would wander the Mercato Centrale for sliced meats and cheese and have a lovely Italian man whip me up some delicious concoction. Dinners became fresher and opened up more senses. Have you cooked with fresh basil, picked by a little Italian grandma recently?
Now, living in Thailand the food shopping has changed once again. It's not as much of a "cooking" atmosphere for me here since most people eat out every night. The night markets (and some restaurants) only start opening at 6pm and the options are much different from anything I've experienced. Exotic fruits so colorful (and somewhat dangerous looking) next to chicken - fried, boiled, covered in peanut sauce, or coated with sweet chili - along with salads that contain everything but lettuce, and curry upon colorful curry. While I've found myself in somewhat of a pattern consisting of fried rice, fried noodles, green curry, som tam (thank you, Dani), pork - in any form - and of course, banana cakes, I have yet to get sick of the food here. In fact I still wake up looking forward to lunch and after playing basketball last night I actually said, "I'm happy we played because now I'm hungry and excited to eat!"
(durian - which I ran over with motorbike last week)
"Shopping" now is more of a carnival experience where I walk around and pick and choose what to eat for dinner. Think of the Big E, all you Massachusetts folk...every night. If I'm not eating my dinner out of a plastic bag, which is easier than it sounds, I sit at the pier and order spring rolls upon spring rolls or som tam - papaya, chilis, garlic, sun dried shrimp, lime juice, tomatoes, peanuts, bean sprouts, green beans and some other ingredients that I can't decipher.
While I've never been much of a dessert fan (salty over sweet any day) I can't help but try the Thai pancakes filled with green jelly like product which tastes simliar to a coconut custard. One would have been enough...but one just isn't done here. Instead, we were given about 6 of these little pockets of heaven.