Happy 中秋節! Today is the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival, which celebrates the largest, brightest, roundest full moon of the year. It's a special holiday for giving thanks for a bountiful harvest, hosting family reunions, and of course moon gazing. What's really special about this full moon is that even if you are far away from your family, if you both look at the moon, you will be sharing the same magnificent sight. Though this post has nothing to do with moon cakes, lanterns, or rabbits on the moon, it does have to do with family and good food.
Thailand: land of a thousand smiles. After more than ten years, I finally had the opportunity to return to Bangkok. When I was younger, Phuket and Pattaya left very strong impressions, and I can only hope to visit again. This time around, I stayed closer to Bangkok and traveled to Hua Hin and Ayutthaya. Hua Hin is a town associated with the royal family and a local vacation destination, and Ayutthaya is the old capital, rich with ruins and teeming with temples. Everywhere I went, the locals were courteous and tolerant. There was neither hustling nor pushing, even at the most crowded night markets filled with Thais and Burmese celebrating the queen's birthday. They really do live up to a thousand smiles.
The food in Thailand goes without saying, but I don't think I had a single bad meal. Road side dives, hotel dining, floating markets, Chinatown, night markets, mall food courts, street stands... I ate it all and enjoyed every bite of it. The creative uses of lemongrass, coconut, ginger, and other spices all worked together in harmony giving you sweetness, spiciness, and tang. I was reminded of how sweet and refreshing coconut water could be, inspired by the diversity of curry, and disgusted by the amount of durian I ate. Fruit and seafood do not get much fresher than do they in this country, and desserts do not get much sweeter. Thais are pampered by sweet coconut cakes, condensed milk laden coffees, and endless supplies of sticky rice. If I could, I would do it all over again.
|Khao khluk kapi, rice mixed with shrimp paste|
|Coconut butter candies|
|Floating market foods|
|Mangosteen, mango, rambutan, and durian|
|Coconut water, all day erryday|
|Oyster pancake at Siam Paragon|
|Gai ka pow lak khao kai dao, spicy basil with ground pork|
|Red curry duck|
|Chinatown pickled goods|
|Curry crab in Chinatown|
|The durian team!|
|Street side pad thai, 20 baht|