Stepping back into Thailand, June 2006, for the second-to-last time...
(You can refresh your memory, or meet these posts for the first time, over here.)
We got back from our Ayutthaya day trip midafternoon covered in dust and dirt and soot marred by rivulets of sweat. It was so hot outside that we knew we'd have to retreat for a while to the quiet white coolness of our room at the Baan Sabai.
But lunch had been really, really lacking in the department of deliciousness and decency, even, so we were hungry.
Street vendor to the rescue! This woman was almost directly in front of the Baan Sabai. She offered my two favorite cooking methods rolled into one... grill plus dumpling.
We got a little variety - one with banana, one with peanut, and one with more bean, if I remember correctly. This, plus a trusty large Beer Chang - Elephant Beer, that is - helped our moods considerably. Though I could be confounding my variables... we also each had a bracingly cold shower and a brief nap.
To be perfectly truthful, the rice balls were a little dry, probably because they were being kept warm over the grillwok.
We waited until dark to poke our now quite tan and scrubbed faces tentatively outside. Almost immediately, Husbear spotted a strolling man with an intriguing mix of... what could that be?
Not wanting to miss out, he picked up speed.
Just as we thought - this gentleman was our first mobile insect vendor!
We'd seen insects a couple of times before - most notably at the market we visited during our cooking class in Chiang Mai - but we hadn't tried any. And after a trip during which we found ourselves eating, at various times, hot vit lon (fetal duck egg), field mouse, and traditional British jellied eels, we had to have one last thing you can't find here in the States.
But, having made the decision to try some of the wares, um... how do you choose between all of them?
I wanted to try the bamboo worms, mostly because of their gratifying lack of spindly legs.
Husbear went for the grasshoppers, because, well... he wanted to stick up for all that hopped-on grass?
So, we requested a small baggie of the two types, with some crickets thrown in for good measure. The guy sprayed a thin brown liquid (fish sauce mixed with something, perhaps?) over our bugs, and handed them over.
We immediately selected one of each type for each of us and snacked. Honestly, not bad. A little fishy, from the spray, perhaps? A nutty flavor predominated.
These definitely needed a beer to help wash them down, so we trudged over to a place we'd scouted earlier that looked to do a good job on whole grilled fish.
Taking a table, we ordered a couple beers and unwrapped our tiny, leggy bounty.
Care for a closeup? With a full-face view of a grasshopper, who looks like he's being stalked by a particularly brazen cricket?
With the beers, this became a satisfying aperitif. I liked the smaller insects better - the grasshoppers' legs kept getting stuck in my teeth. Undesirable.
But, of course, man does not live on leggy hoppers and crawlies alone, so we ordered some food. After our day in the searing heat of Ayutthaya, I was totally dehydrated and thought the menu's miso soup would be perfect.
Oops. Forgot we were in a Korean restaurant. Still, though, the soup was nice, and definitely began the process of restoring my electrolytes.
We had to order a whole fish, of course. That's one thing that I've found to be lacking at restaurants around here - it's hard to just get a whole grilled or fried fish. Fillets rule in the States.
It's been so long that I've stupidly forgotten what kind of fish we ate. A flat one. Grilled.
It came with so-so panchan.
The fish, whatever it was, was really yummy. It was served with a nicely spicy tangy sauce and fish sauce, along with a bit of a cabbagey salad for crunch and some greenery.
All in all, very nice. We left and walked back towards our hotel, stopping at some hostel that was playing the Borat movie. Nice.
Only one more Southeast Asia post! And that one is predominantly airplane food.
When do we go back?