When I was young, my mom always wanted me to accompany her to “Talad” (market in Thai). But, food shopping had never been my thing. I whined every time she woke me up for her early morning market trips. Being surrounded by dead animals at dawn was not an ideal situation for a girl who had no interest in food.
As I grew older and developed an appreciation for cooking, going to the food market has gone from the bottom to the top of my to-do list whenever I visit new cities. I am drawn to the array of foods that are arranged in beautiful patterns, the tastes, the colours and the smells.
On my latest visit home to Bangkok, the tables have turned. I am now the one initiating "Talad" visits with mom. This time, I was the one waking up earlier and knocking on her door, telling her it’s time to go.
Mom took me to Talad Suan Luang, her most frequented market. Like other food markets around the world, the vendors at Talad Suan Luang are very friendly. But, what I love about this market, or perhaps Thai food markets in general, is that everyone knows everyone and their mothers, literally. It appears that "talad" is the place where the community comes to trade not only food, but also stories.
As I walked around, I often heard things like:
“Where’s your mom today?”
“How’s your uncle?”
“Is your brother feeling better?”
My mother was no exception. Walking behind her is an interesting experience. Almost everyone knows her. They all asked about my dad and they were glad to finally put my face to the name they've heard. Apparently, I am known among them as ลูกสาวป๋า (closely translated to “my father’s daughter") :)
I visited the markets with my mom with a new perspective and it was very cool to see how she shopped. She's a true pro. Unlike me, she decides what to cook based on the ingredients she sees, whereas I have to plan what to make in advance. But like me, she will never settle for stale produce. She’s willing to drive around town to find fresher ingredients. “I'd rather waste my time than make a bad dish" she said.
I totally get it. It seems like I did retain something from our early market walks when I was little.
She has also taken me to other Talads outside of Bangkok. We went to Mahachai market, where fresh seafood is traded daily and Amphawa floating market to witness the old-school style of food shopping. I absolutely adored all of these experiences.
Market visits with my mom are not just about shopping trips, they are also a walk down memory lane and an affirmation that life does come full circle.
Thanks mom :)