Why I’m Thankful for Chiang Mai

Upon departing Bangkok on the cartoon-character-mascoted Nok Air, which my father creepily insisted on calling “Nookie Air,” I was looking forward to a smaller city and some more accessible delicious foods. The plane food, to assure you it is no better there than here, was an Auntie Annie’s pretzel that may have been baked sometime in the 20th century. Sure enough when we got to Chiang Mai, our taxi could not even make to the hotel because of the enormous parade in honor of the Loy Krathang Festival. imgp2860We barely sat our stuff down before we were out on the streets, celebrating to the sounds of firecrackers exploding over the river. We started with the classic Chiang Mai dish, a curry noodle soup called khao soi. More on that later when we go to a restaurant which specializes in it, then moving on to whatever little fried goodies, noodle salads and grilled pork that we could find. We finished off with a banana and egg roti, pictured above as it is made for us on the street. While the streets of CM are normally packed in the evening because of the many night markets, these particular days there were even more tents and food courts set up. The next night, dinner continued to be a stall to stall event.imgp2882These guys were really calling our names as we walked by, so we chose and pointed, our usual method to get the dish we want at these markets.imgp2884Chopped up and served with an incredible hot sauce, this was some of the most tender, delicious squid I’ve ever eaten. We were one and one on delicious food so we kept up our momentum and hit up the spring roll stand.

imgp2883Both were quite good. The fried spring rolls are definitely a little different, more vegetable heavy and less cabbage-y than their Chinese brethren, while the steamed version was a bit chewier than its better known Vietnamese cousin.

Working our way to the next morning (oh, and I suppose the next bunch of mornings) we located our favorite meals in Chiang Mai. At the cart up the street from the hotel, we discovered what true happiness is.

imgp2866Yup, that is right, my true happiness involves a bowl of noodles with bit pieces of pork served on the street at 8am and accompanied by a big mug of Thai iced tea. B and I even had to take pictures of ourselves grinning with noodles dripping from our chopsticks because we could not contain our excitement and had to record the moment for posterity. No, you don’t get to see those. Just because we’re dorks, doesn’t mean we have to share our dorkiness!

On our last day in CM, we felt the need to go on one last final street food tasting, so we raided the Wororot Market, eating from stand after stand, pointing to whatever looked remotely appetizing (and some things that didn’t).imgp30611This is sticky rice in bamboo, with something else in their. It was slightly sweet–maybe some coconut too? Whatever it was, peeling away the bamboo to expose the sticky rice was definitely a good share of the fun with this snack.imgp3063My father, in his most daring food moment of the whole trip was suddenly compelled to try these tapioca balls in coconut cream sauce. I give him big props for this, first for coming out of his little food shell, and second because these turned out to be really delicious! I was impressed.imgp3065At this point I was a little full and, most regrettably, did not purchase this delicacy. I’m still kicking myself a little for that move.imgp3068Finally, we finished up with this little guy, a ball of sweet potato pancake. Seriously sweet and seriously delicious.

Overall I thought the street food of Chiang Mai was extremely good, restoring my faith that this trip would be a little eating fest from cart to cart. We did, however, eat a few meals in restaurants, and that post is coming up soon.


One Response

  1. amazing what kinds of food exist!

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