If you have nothing else to do at 3.00am, in Bangkok you can go and do your food shopping! Last night, around 3.00am, I caught a taxi and headed to the Night Market and was surprised to find a large, thriving food market in full swing.
For the most part, the market is divided into sections so that fruit, meat and vegetable stalls are all located close to each other. I wandered around the market, checking out the produce. There were fruits and vegetables that are not usually found in stores back home. Also, some of the meat and seafood items are not the usual western fare. I appeared to be the only westerner in the market.
Here are a few photos of the produce available. Most of the prices shown are per kilo (approx 32 Baht to the US dollar).
I did buy a few things whilst at the market, including some large prawns (shrimp) and local veggies that I’ll be having for dinner tonight. I was also able to cross ‘tasting durian’ off my must-do list for this trip.
Durian is sometimes referred to as the ‘smelliest fruit in the world’ and attracts a lot of strong opinions about the odour that it gives off. I first became aware of durian earlier this year, on a visit to Bangkok, when I saw signs in the hotel elevator banning durian from being taken inside the building. This Smithsonian article reports that durian is prohibited from the Singapore mass transit system and goes on to explain why it ‘smells so terribly’. I didn’t get to taste it in January, so I committed to give it a try on this visit.
Durian was selling for 100 Baht per kilo at the market. As I stood in line, I saw that the person before me bought a large durian that weighed 4 kilos (400 Baht). I didn’t need that much, so the lady operating the stall picked out a small, ripe durian for me that weighed two kilos (200 Baht – about $6). She checks the ripeness by banging the durian with a stick. She then expertly cut away the spiked outer skin to reveal the flesh of the fruit inside, that surrounds the large seeds. Each of these pieces was then individually wrapped and then placed into a plastic bag for me to take home.
After all of the hype that I’d read about durian, I expected a significant challenge in eating it. Those who follow this blog will know that I’m usually willing to try unusual foods during my travels. I anticipated having to hold my nose to minimise the smell. The reality was a bit of an anti-climax. Whilst my durian certainly has a smell, I can’t describe it as ‘terrible’ or over-powering. And it didn’t deter me from eating the fruit in any way. It has a pleasant taste, but not so nice that I’d want to eat it frequently.
I have been told that the more a durian ripens, the sweeter it tastes but the smellier it gets. So, it is quite possible that my durian is at its earliest stage of ripeness and could become smellier if I leave it for a few days. I ate half when I got back from the market and I’ll be eating the rest today. I have no plans to see how smelly it can get in my room!