Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Isaan Odyssey, Part 22: Scorpions - And Other Night Market Snacks

After returning from our afternoon of exploring Phu Prabat Historical Park I was tired and a little low on fluids, so I did as I should have during the day and drank water along with some fresh squeezed orange juice I purchased from a cart just down the street from my hotel. I'd added a pinch of salt to it, as that also helps your body to retain it a bit. I'd told Suphot I didn't plan on going anywhere that evening and that he should just rest or go out somewhere himself, if he felt like it. I figured he could use a break, too.

Fruit shakes/smoothies are a good way to re-hydrate and get some nutrients

As soon as my friend and I got into my room I jumped into a cool-to-tepid shower and cooled off a bit, dried off, put on some shorts and lay myself down for some reading and a little bit of a nap. My friend curled up in a chair and turned on the TV, watching the National Geographic Channel as he usually does if he can't find football or another nature channel. I was asleep before I'd finished a full page of my book, and only woke for a moment when it dropped down onto my chest before surrendering to slumber for a couple of hours.

My cell phone rang around 6:00pm/18:00, and it was my friend, calling to see if I was going to go out for dinner or just stay in. He'd gone out to call one of his friends on his cell phone and then had been locked out of the room when the door closed behind him. Not wanting to wake me up he'd walked down to the mall for a while. While I didn't feel much like going out I didn't want to waste an evening in Udonthani by staying in, so even though I was weary I dressed and met him outside the mall.

We walked to a different area of the night market, separate from the main halls you saw back on April 18th. This one was much less crowded, which made it easier to get around and people watch. This particular evening I concentrated more on the snacks and things to eat and drink - probably because I was hungry, I guess, but I continued even after we'd eaten. There were a wide variety of items for sale, too, like the baked goods the young man was selling in the photo above.

Naem sai krog (sour Isaan sausages) like those above aren't really what folks from the West expect them to be, and they don't taste nearly the same, either. After being kept raw and uncooked for a few days to sour they have a definite tang to them, caused by the fermentation in the sugars of the rice carbohydrates involved. Once you get past expecting them to taste more like a "proper" sausage or banger they're easy enough to accept as the tangy, garlicky links they are. Because of the process necessary to create them they can be problematic for Western stomachs and systems, though. You've been warned.

A variety of fresh fruit were available at this stall, and I got enough to stock my fridge

You might think scorpions are poisonous, and you'd be correct; the venom they inject when they sting you is. However, they're fast-cooked in very hot oil, and the heat neutralizes the proteins that give the venom its "kick", rendering it harmless and making them edible. In fact, they're somewhat of a delicacy, although as of today I've yet to try them myself. I'm told they're delicious, so... maybe someday.

Allegedly tasty fried scorpions

There's always a stall or stand of beverages, and this market was no exception. Everything from hard liquor to water was available, making a fairly colorful display, I thought.

After what seemed like far too short an evening I was again ready for sleep. My friend had met up with a few other friends while we were walking around and he got a ride back home with them. I walked back to my room at the hotel, passing a small strip of carnival booths where I watched people playing a dart-throwing game - my favorite as a child myself when visiting the county fair. As an adult I was far less successful, but it was fun to try.

[Coming up next in Part 23: One last day in Udonthani. By the way - this is Part 22 of a series. If you found this via a search or just happened upon it some other way you can find parts 1 through 21 by clicking HERE.]


Xian Darkthorne said...

Fried scorpions...another delicacy I've absolutely got to try the next time I'm in Thailand. I hope I can get them at the Patpong night market where I get my fried grsshoppers and silk worms.

khunbaobao said...

I don't see them as often as I do the grasshoppers, silk worms, etc. - but you do see them around the city. Chatuchak market is a sure bet. Bon appetit!

Christian said...

The only place where I saw fried scorpions so far was Khao San road, which made me think the Thai don't eat them theirselves, but sell them to crazy Farang. Now I'm wiser, I might try next time.

khunbaobao said...

OK, I promise to try them all next trip - and I'll let you know here on the blog when I do.

Let us know if you get there before I do, will you?

Xian Darkthorne said...

Thanks for the tip. I must try andd time my next (long overdue) holiday so that I can visit the Chatuchak weekend market and try out those funky fried scorpions and spiders.