11 Jun 2012

Food glorious food

I've been meaning to write about food since last September ... yeah, I've been procrastinating just a tad.  I feel that one of the best ways to learn about a country and a culture is to eat their food.  It gives you an insight like no other into the traditions a society is built on.  The ingredients they use, the way they prepare their meals, and the way they eat reflects their whole ethos.

I want to tell you about three particular food experiences I had in Asia last year.  The first occurred in Kota Kinabulu, Borneo.  Kayleigh and I ate dinner every single night at the Phillipino night market - Kay has pictures of this on her blog.  If you ever happen to be in Kota Kinabulu you can find this night market by walking along the sea front.  It is located just next to the indoor market, outside of which you should find a row of men making suits at very old sowing machines - if they are the same men we came across they will be happy for you to take a picture as long as you ask them nicely first!

There are a lot of Phillipino immigrants in KK because it lies so close to the Phillipines, and they specialise in one thing: fish.  A plate of crispy egg fried rice on the side, an ice cold diet coke, and lots and lots of fresh, juicy fish.  Calamari, giant tuna steaks, fish skewers - all marinated in rich, thick delicousness.  There is no cutlery, so you just whip out your hand gel, wipe your hands dry with a tissue (to avoid the alcohol taste), and get stuck in!  The best part?  Figuring out how much you've actually spent, we estimated the tuna steaks (which were bigger than our heads and double the thickness you see on the markets back home) to be about £1.50 each.

The second experience was in Kota Bharu, Malaysia.  Kay, Skip (Australian Mick, original I know!) and I had heard rumours of a great night market just around the corner from our hotel.  We were staying at Sabrina Court Hotel on Jalan Padang Galong, and if my memory serves me right we turned right out of the hotel and found the market in a back street area about five minutes away - apologies for the terribly vague directions, I'd started neglecting my travel journal by this point so have nothing to go on except memory.  The market was made up of a few rickety food stalls, many plastic chairs and tables, massive frying pans and hoards of cheeky stray cats.  Again, there were no knives or forks, only straws for your beverages!  Never go anywhere without your anti-bacterial hand gel ...  We had fried chicken with rice and a little bag of hot curry sauce.  The chicken was delicious, the fluffy rice cooked to perfection and the sauce was second to none.  Eating rice and sauce with my fingers was a challenge to be honest, but once I got the hang of it I cleared my plate in no time.  Yet again, it was all cheaper than chips.

The third and final story comes from Chatuchak Market, (or JJ Market) in Bangkok, Thailand.  I've been to this market three times now and I would love to will go back.  You can buy anything and haggle everything!  There are many items in my wardrobe that have been sourced here.  If you ever visit this market you will need to spend at least one whole day browsing, then another day to come back and buy everything!  There are hundreds of tiny food stalls and restaurants tucked away among the shops, which all do great food.  My instructions for this eatery are going to be the worst yet, as I have no idea where in the market this place is located or what it is called.  All I can say is it was THE best chicken fried rice I have EVER had, so many tomatoes, so much coriander and so de-li-cious.  I had it with a bottle of diet coke and the whole thing came to less than two pounds.  We came back the next day but had to eat elsewhere as the place was full and had a verrrry long queue.  This time I got to eat with chopsticks (I love chopsticks and use them at every opportunity) rather than my bare hands, although hands isn't so bad - don't knock it til you've tried it!

I'm very passionate about food and even more so about cooking it, a recent recipe I tried was found here, it was a great success!