17 February 2009

A four year old bargain

On a recent Sunday morning, my daughter woke up and declared that it would be a mommy-daughter day. And, where did she want to go? To the weekend market! Always up for a trip to Chatuchak, I donned my sun hat and stepped out into the already hot day, hand in hand with my daughter.

After a few Skytrain stops and one quick metro ride, we arrived in the heart of the market. Ahh, yes. The familiar scent of charcoals cooking satay, pots of jasmine being sold, smokey incense already wafting overhead mixed with the vibrant colors of electric oranges and yellows and magentas swaying from displays. And, the sounds of little kids playing their home made instruments, people chattering on about what they will purchase and a mixture of electric pop music and traditional Thai pan flute piped out over side by side speakers all mingled peacefully. 

My four-year-old immediately reached into her bag, pulled out 8 baht pieces and pulled me towards the nearest popsicle vendor. After careful consideration she pointed to the red stainless steel tube trapped side by side with at least fifty others in a giant ice bath. The vendor reached into the icy bucket to pull one of the bamboo skewers, holding the icy sugar water, out of its mold. A long glistening cylinder of red ice emerged. The transaction of baht for ice occurred (after my daughter removes the teeny plastic cow she brought along with the baht) and we moved on as she happily licked away.

Hand in hand, I gave my daughter full reign of the market and allowed her to experiment with purchasing in Thailand. She's been with me on many previous trips to this market, but this would be her first time creating her own shopping destiny. The vendors loved her efforts and rewarded her careful examination of their products. After about an hour of thoughtful consideration she had already purchased several gifts for visiting family members awaiting our arrival at home. With our arms full of several pieces of jewelry, a hand made bag holding lemon grass loose leaf tea, a tiny cactus garden, a wooden car ingeniously carrying a tiny cat sculpture selling fish, and a squeaky bird puppet, she told me that she'd like to buy me a very special present. Adorable, but tricky for me since I had been somewhat involved in the back and forth negotiations of the the day's other purchases. Her specific instructions did not allow for me to have a role in this purchase. Figuring the worst case scenario was that I lose a couple extra baht, I agreed to the plan.

We wandered a bit and then she came upon the vendor she wanted to do business with. Picking up a (truly and really gorgeous) necklace she approached the vendor, offered her greeting and asked the price. She said okay, without bartering, and returned smiling to me to get the full amount. Now in Thailand, you generally don't accept the first offered price, but, that's a bit tricky for a proud four-year-old to understand. The vendor began to realize what had happened and allowed my daughter to pick out another beautiful necklace and seven pairs of earrings from his displays!

My daughter walked away from the booth, eyes flashing, and happily declared "Mama, I never want to leave this market!" I agree....

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 32:
Char Siew Rice Noodles
The following is a delicious recipe intended to use any extra Char Siew (sweet roasted pork) you have left from my previous recipe entry. This dish makes a wonderful, fresh salad-like main dish or a refreshing side dish accompaniment to a spicy meal. If you didn't try making the Char Siew (shocking, as it would be!), add your favorite meat, poultry or brand of tofu to the dish instead.

Half package medium thickness rice noodles
2 Tablespoons butter (or other preferred fat)
1 heaping Tablespoon flour
1 cup stock (pork, chicken, veggie)
2 Tablespoons Thai palm sugar, softened*
1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 Tablespoons lime juice
12 cloves of garlic, finely sliced into matchsticks
1 Tablespoon veggie oil
1 cup of cilantro, coarsely chopped
5 green onions, cut into 1 inch slices
1 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup sliced radish
1/8 cup roughly chopped cashews
12 slices Char Siew (sweet roasted pork), cut again into match stick slices
Extra chopped cashews and cilantro for garnish

Soak rice noodles in a large bowl of hot water until they are al dente. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saute pan. Add flour and cook for two minutes. Slowly, add the stock, whisking continuously to eliminate all lumps. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Add the sugar, fish sauce and lime. Set aside.
In another saute pan, add the oil and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown (do not allow to burn) and remove at once from the heat.
In a serving bowl or on a large deep platter, add sauce. Add noodles and all other ingredients, including the golden fried garlic. Stir to coat. Sprinkle with the extra chopped cashews and cilantro. If you like spice, you can add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Allow to cool slightly and serve.
*If you can't find palm sugar, you can substitute brown sugar in this recipe.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Looking forward to hearing your comment!