Friday, July 18, 2014
thai and Thai-style shu mai (a fusion food of Japanese and Thai tastes), steamed crab, and grilled jumbo prawns. Way too much food, but worth it. For the record, this was shared with a co-worker, though we probably should have had a third and fourth for this meal.
These are photos taken in a large mall in Cha'Am Thailand (located about 120 miles south of Bangkok, on the southern coast).
Fruit and vegetable vendors are found everywhere in Thailand. As a result, there are few "grocery stores" as we know them in America. The large food stores in Thailand sell mostly specialty items, such as bakery goods, wines and boxed goods. Meats, fish, fruits and vegetables are easier and cheaper to find on the streets.
Dunkin Donuts is in Thailand. They not only sell donuts, but sell pastries suited to the Thai taste. While this one didn't have them, other branches also sell donuts decorated to look like "Hello Kitty" characters, which are popular enough to be featured in television commercials for the chain.
A pineapple vendor by a set of escalators.
These are durians, which I had never had before. They are super popular in Asia, but are also banned from most hotels as they start to smell like unwashed feet when they age beyond ripeness.
These durian vendors knew exactly how to check the fruit for ripeness. The woman on the left (in pink) would hit the fruits with a stick to determine the ripeness by the sound. The woman on the right was an expert durian slicer.
My co-worker checked the durian for the ripeness that he liked the most.
She quarters the fruit.
Here's the center that is edible.
My co-worker took my photo as I bit into it. The texture was like a banana, while the flavor tasted like tapioca. It was very good and extremely filling.
Later in the mall, we found these - they are breads filled with American-style meats. We found bologna, hot dogs, pastrami, etc. This one was filled with bacon and cheese. I didn't try it as I was still stuffed from the durian. Sorry folks. Maybe next time.
This is from a restaurant in the Hua Hin/Cha' Am area of Thailand. I'm not sure what it all was (a co-worker who has lived there for 15 years did all the ordering) but it was delicious.
My co-worker at lunch.
Papya Salad. I had this twice in Thailand. It's very spicy, but delicious.
Spicy ground pork, I believe
Catfish soup served in a bowl nestled around hot coals.
Another view of the soup.
I know this doesn't look like much, but it's actually the front for a Muslim or "Halal" restaurant in China. Everyone I spoke with in China who has lived there for more than several months said they were food poisoned, due to the lack of any restaurant inspections there. And everyone I spoke with said that the rule of thumb is this: if you don't want to risk food poisoning, eat at the Muslim restaurants. Halal food is incredibly clean and conditions are closely controlled. Just like kosher foods, Halal customs remove the risks of most contaminants, such as blood, pork and milk. So for anyone who wishes to travel, keep this in mind. Look for Halal restaurants.
Chinese Hot Pot. So typically, "hot pot" has one large pot of broth that everyone in your part cooks their vegetables and meats in. You get the broth to a boil and share the experience, which is what meal time is all about in China - sharing the experience. But it's also seen as completely unhygienic as all these chopsticks are all dipped in the pot, thus introducing everyone's germs into the mix. And for vegetarians, it's a nightmare as meats are introduced into the pot. My daughter knew of this restaurant in Kunming where everyone got their own pot of broth, thus avoiding both the problems. I got the hot and spicy broth for my vegetables. You boil your vegetables and then individually pick them out of your broth and eat then. You can coat them in spices or sauces after taking them out. It was delicious.
My daughter said I couldn't leave China without a traditional noodle lunch. This was hot and spicy, and very good.
This is the kitchen of the noodle restaurant, which was open to be seen from the eating area. Notice that they are cooking 12 lunches at a time. It was quick and hectic, but amazing to watch. The place had a line out the door.
More foods found in the Yunan Province. The top photo is fried shrimp, but unlike in America, the "shells and heads" were left on during the cooking process. I was skeptical at first about unshelled shrimp, but after trying it, found it very tasty, as the shells were crispy and soft. I could not, however, get over my phobia of eating the heads, so I left those on my plate. I was told by my host that was perfectly acceptible as she also did not eat the heads. The second photo is deep fried shredded goats cheese coates in sugar. The third is Kale in a spice broth. And the last is fried green beans and peppers, which I found exceptionally delicious.
These are foods that are usually only found in the Yunan province. The top photo has locally-grown mushrooms (black stuff on the plate), chicken on the bone and cubes of fried rice (right plate) and flash-fried red beans in spicy coating (left). The bottom photo shows locally-produced fried goats cheese with salt and sweet-and-sour fried chicken (the only dish I have ever found in America). It was all amazing.
This was a breakfast I purchased from a "western-style" bakery in Kunming, China. The top roll is filled with red-bean paste, the roll on the right is filled with mango pudding, and the roll on the left has a hard-boiled egg yolk surrounded by red bean paste in the middle. All were delicious. The drink is coconut milk and mango with a popular sweet jelly in it. The drink had an after taste that I didn't like, but my daughter couldn't detect it, so I think it was just my taste buds and may not have been anything wrong with the drink. My daughter loved the drink.
This is Salvador's Restaurant in Kunming, China. It's owned by an American ex-patriot who has lived in the city for about 13 years and it served American food and drinks only. The food is mostly purchased by other American ex-pat's and is, to be honest, mediocre by our standards, but for those in China, it's "heaven" (as was described to me by another ex-pat). Drinks include staples such as gin and tonic, rum and coke, whiskey, and tequila sunrises. That said, Chinese folks do come here often, not for the meals of drinks but because Salvador's sells something else the Chinese are crazy about - he sells ice cream out of a case in front. The Chinese love ice cream, and Salvador's sells peanut butter, snickers, chocolate chip, and other flavors. It's a huge success.
This is my daughter's favorite dumpling restaurant in Kunming, China. It's literally a hole in the wall. My daughter likes it because she hasn't gotten food poisoning from it, which she has gotten three times in the past year from eating from street vendors. The buns were filled with red bean paste, while the pot stickers were pork. It was delicious.
Before spending 4.5 days in Kunming China, I also spent five days in Thailand, and during both trips, I saw no American-style grocery stores. I'll clarify - I saw one grocery store in Hua Hin Thailand, but it wasn't what we Americans think of as a "grocery store." Instead, it was solely stocked with specialty items such as bakery goods, chocolate and candy, alcohol, ice cream, etc. Day-to-day grains, vegetables and fruits were not found because they are commonly sold on the streets. In both countries, citizens do not buy one to two weeks worth of groceries like we do in America, instead they buy one to two days worth of ingredients when needed. This got my thinking - is this why America has a diabetes and obesity problem? I'm just throwing that out there.