FUNKIE FOODIE 1: Jim's Funkie foodie cravings in South East Asia


Having lived in Thailand for several years, I have tasted many kinds of local specialties which, over time became favourites of mine.

Thai culture seems to revolve around friends and food. One is always being invited over to a party, over to "geen kao"  (กินข้าว) come and eat. Everywhere in Thailand food is readily available and seen, and is eaten many times during the day and night. At work our  boss always had lunch for everyone, and there was always enough for visitors who came through the door.  When I was living in Bangkok and went out to for night life almost every weekend whilst  there, before and even after the dance clubs closed we would go out for noodle soup or snacks before heading back home, either alone or with someone special!  A period of my life in Thailand I lived and worked in the North East, or Isan (ภาคอีสาน) which, like the other regions of Thailand, have their own particular specialties. I have grown attached to some of the peculiar favourites which I am craving now and wish to share on this first feature of FUNKIE FOODIE.

Much of the foods I am sharing in this feature would come from the outside markets which sell food ready to take away. It comes in small plastic bags usually 8 to 10 Baht. (In Bangkok markets for probably around 15 to 20 baht).

 This is a curry made from red ant eggs and the larva of the ant eggs. It has a spicy, pungent and wonderful flavour! The green vegetables are a bit tricky to eat as there are small thorns connected to the vegetable which I eat anyway. Sometimes included with the ant egg and larva are also wings of bees and other insects, all cooked thoroughly together. The method of collecting these ingredients is unique that other insects are also part of the mix, which makes it more flavourful! ແຊບ
 Bamboo shoot curry แกงหน่อไม้, is a wonderful favourite of mine! I can taste and smell the aroma now! This so spicy that it could probably corrode through aluminium foil if wrapped around it. The pungent flavour with the classic tastes of the Isan, with slightly crunchy bamboo and herbal vegetables make a wonderful experience! One could find this in the outside food section of the market in huge kettles. ( one package for 8 Baht ) My heart pounds from nostalgia!

 Sticky rice ข้าวเหนียว, ເຂົ້າຫນຽວ   is a staple and a very necessary accompaniment. Using fingers and never a fork, the rice seems to balance the fire  in your mouth. Bits of this rice can be also dipped into various "namprik" which is literally chili sauce, but other things often mixed with the chili, such as MAENGDA, the insect you see above. This is one of my favourite as it is spicy and sweet! ( unfortunately, there is a modern version which is maengda flavoured! Why would they want to make an artifical  flavour of an insect? ( in the plastic jar next to the real insect in the photo above) There are a plethora of nam prick น้ำพริก in Thailand; (nam prik narok น้ำพริกนรก)  Hell,  (namprik sawan น้ำพริกสวรรค์) Heaven , namprik น้ำพริก"Ong", are a few names which come to mind. I like them all, and are eaten with sticky rice!

Kao Soi is not from Isan, but from the North near Chiang Mai. It has a special curry flavour , influenced from Burmese cuisine, and goes delightfully with the crunchy noodles!  ลุมเต
Here is a favourite cooling and healthy drink when I was not in Thailand but Ethiopia. It is made from avocado, mango and papaya. Unfortunately I find natural fruit drinks a sad rarity, especially in the big cities, but was pleased to have this one in Nazret, Ethiopia. This refreshing drink would finish off my funkie foodie adventure off in a funky way!  Enjoy!


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