One thing we really enjoy when traveling abroad is checking out the food markets in foreign cities. Grocery stores, high-end food halls, down-and-dirty meat markets, even convenience stores -- walking through these places gives you such a great sense of the foodways of a place.
So we loved checking out a few food markets while we were in Thailand last month.
We couldn't help but compare the experience to our visits to wet markets in China a couple years ago.
Now, we're certainly not experts on food markets in either China or Thailand ... but that's not about to stop us from making some generalizations! We visited three wet markets in China and three in Thailand (including Or Tor Kor market in Bangkok, which is a great site, especially if you're at the nearby Chatachuk weekend market).
On the whole, the Thai markets were much less crazy than the Chinese markets we visited, and much closer to Western farmers markets. In China, we saw cages with live rabbits and chickens, tubs of live snakes and turtles. (And, yes, dog.)
We saw none of that at the markets we visited in Thailand. The fruits and vegetables were arrayed in beautiful rows and piles. The properly butchered meat was hanging on racks. Pork rinds sizzled and popped in hot oil. Women fried chicken in huge woks.
Here are a few photos from the markets, to give you a sense of what's on offer, and below, a video compiling some short clips we shot while walking around.
But first...do you know what's pictured above? We do not, though we loved its Christmasy colors. If you know, please share!
Oh sure, there was plenty at the market we visited in Chiang Mai to remind us that we weren't at our local Safeway. Tables of flayed fish lay drying in the sun. Dank tubs of shrimp paste gave off a fetid odor.
Here are a few short video clips of the market we visited in Chiang Mai. This is quick, but it should give you a decent feel for the market.
So, wanna go do a grocery run in Thailand? We'll meet you there....