16 October 2009

The Pineapple Market

My brain is forever programmed to hear the words Bobae Market and to think of pineapple. It's a Pavlovian response. Would you like to explore the famous Bobae Market, the epicenter of wholesale clothing trade in southeast Asia? Ding. Pineapple. Shall we spend a few hours wandering the steamy outdoor alleyways or the seven floor tower at Bobae Market? Ding. Pineapple. Perhaps we could go pick up some really inexpensive brand name outfits for the kids this weekend at Bobae Market? Ding. Pineapple.

Comprised of an extensive labyrinth of open air alleys and two seven story air conditioned towers, rows and rows of discount clothing fill the stalls at Bobae. (Ding!) I experienced my first trip to the market a few weeks back and while I picked up a few items, it didn't exactly live up to my expectations for clothing. Now, don't get me wrong. The place is filled with clothing and has a strong sampling of what you'll find at other markets in Bangkok. There's a fantastic costume store where you can buy everything from feather plumes to rhinestone studded shoes to crowns and elaborate dresses in every size imaginable. The towers also house multiple stores for children's dress wear that is absolutely gorgeous-- taffeta spun with chiffon overlay and three piece suits starting for your 3 month old and heading up in size. You'll see every T-shirt imaginable, along with biker jackets, men's sized high heel shoes, beauty supplies and name brand children's clothing (manufactured in Thailand and exported). But, for every day wear, it was just kind of... inexpensive in every way. The quality of the every day clothing was flimsy and the location isn't exactly convenient to drop into. However, if you're looking for a unique specialty costume item or want to have a thousand polo shirts custom made-- you'll find it at Bobae.

But, enough about the clothes and the main reason that every other human being visits Bobae Market. I was smitten with the pineapples.

On my early morning drive into the heart of the market, I noticed massive amounts of huge empty baskets being loaded onto trucks. Once I arrived at the perimeter of the market, it seemed that there were baskets everywhere and as I grew closer and closer to the towers, more and more baskets materialized. At the time, I thought it was an unusual sight but wrote it off as something that must be unique to the clothing trade. I shopped for a few hours, wandering and discovering. When it was time to go, I climbed back into the car and, warm from the humidity, cracked open a bottle of water. One gulp into the cool liquid and my eyes bugged out of my head. The sight outside my window was unreal. The baskets were back and full (I mean heaping, over flowing full) of pineapples. With each street and each turn, the baskets were stacked higher and higher on the sidewalk edges and people were resting on their haunches with huge knives, carving the skins off of the fruit. At times, I could only see the tops of fellow shoppers heads because their bodies were hidden from the highly stacked baskets. I flipped open my camera and rolled down the window. The scent of intensely sweet pineapple warming in the sun smacked me in the nostrils.

Upon arriving home, I regretted not stopping somewhere in order to really photograph the scene. A blurry basket was all that I got after snapping in succession as we careened through the winding market streets. But, the memory of that day has forever united the words Bobae Market and pineapple in my brain. Ding.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 66:
Pineapple Satay
Thinly sliced pineapple is made even more delicious when grilled. Add a few pieces to your bbq when making this dish, serve with a side of rice and you'll have a completely delicious meal.

2 lbs of meat (chicken, pork or beef), sliced into one-inch strips
2 cups of pineapple juice
1 hand full of fresh basil, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
bamboo skewers

Place a piece of saran wrap on a cutting board. Place one strip of your chosen meat on top of it and cover with another piece of saran wrap. Using a meat pounder, gently pound the strip until thin taking care not to tear the meat. Repeat with all slices.

In a shallow dish, combine the pineapple juice, basil, green onion, coconut milk and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the meat. Cover and refridgerate for a minimum of two hours. Remove the meat from the marinade, skewer each with a piece of bamboo taking care to run the stick through the meat several times. Place on a charcoal bbq and cook until done. The cooking time will depend on what meat you select, but should be no longer than a few minutes on each side. Take care not to overcook.

1 comment:

  1. I can smell the pineapple from your description. I'll go to Bobae now If I'm ever in Thailand just to look for the pineapple. love your blog!


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