Eating Local in Nakhon Si Thammarat (Feb. 5, 2012)
The Sunday market is composed of row upon row of vendor stalls. At one end, you can find a wide range of used clothes (is this the end of the Goodwill value chain?), and at the other, you can order fresh squeezed sugar cane juice in a bottle, cup, or plastic bag. In between, we saw endless piles of fruits and vegetables, curry pastes ready to fry up, fish being butchered, and frogs knocked senseless. Of course, we also ate innumerable items as we went; one of my favorites was chicken on a stick with a sweet red coconut BBQ sauce.
In search of air conditioning, I visited the IT shop across the street to ogle mobile phones, and the Robinson department store, which also had lots of mobile phone stands and shops. Apparently you can never have enough choice in where you get your next mobile. I retreated to the hotel for further cooling.
The nearby restaurant Krour Nakorn had closed and reopened in a different part of town under a new name. Fortunately, we were able to find it so we could have a lavish spread of “fast” favorites. A kua kling of pork, panang curry with pork, and bitter melon with egg and shrimp joined several preparations of fish. The panang curry was especially tasty. Dessert was a somewhat peculiar dish of pea-sized pandanus colored (green) lumps of sweetened sticky rice mixed with coconut shreds. One simply eats it by the spoonful, chewing as much or little as desired (more probably is better). Of course, there was fruit as well.
Our main stop of the day was the National Museum, featuring a range of exhibits covering archeological finds from “prehistory” to exhibits showing various rituals of modern Thai culture, such as marriage and the preparation of special meals for various occasions. Good photography was not always possible, so I bought the book for later consultation.
Dinner in the Country
Kasma has hired “Sun” to drive for her groups for about a decade now. Originally he lived in Bangkok, but to help out with family obligations he moved back to Nakhon Si Thammarat. His father divided the property among the brothers, and we met two of them along with Sun’s mother and a number of children. (I’m bad at genealogy, so it’s hard to be more specific.) After viewing the ponds where they farm catfish and barramundi, we headed back for a feast of very fresh home-grown fish.
Sun’s wife operates a small open air restaurant here, and she closed for the evening to host us. (Our apologies to customers that were turned away.) The stars tonight were small tilapia marinated in fresh turmeric and garlic, then deep fried. They were very moist and flavorful, and tender compared with other fish used in this preparation. We also had tilapia in a sour curry, and a third dish that looks like a curry but I can’t recall the details. A beef stir-fry, and garlicky soup with chicken meatballs, and mixed vegetables with shrimp were more than we could finish. And then came dessert: apple bananas cooked in salty-sweet coconut milk. Second helpings were almost mandatory it was so good. Although the food was very hot, I’d love to eat here more often.