Market Love in Asia [PHOTOS]

Food is an essential part of the human existence, so it makes sense that food often plays a big role when travelling around the world –not just in terms of sustenance. Many of us plan trips based on photographs we have seen and articles (or blogs) we have read. For some, the draw is beautiful architecture or stunning landscapes, for others, like myself, it is the promise of bustling markets, flavourful foods and a chance to learn about a new culture.

Food is often at the core of my most cherished travel experiences – whether consumed or merely admired – and remains a focus in my future travel plans. 

When I travel to a new place, whether its in Canada or somewhere else in the world, the top item on my bucket list (I’m not a huge fan of this term, but my mind is having trouble finding a new one) is often ‘find local markets‘.

#1 Bucket List Item: Find Local Markets

Over the years, markets have become an important part of my travels around the globe – a habit that took root during my first trip to Thailand in 2010.

Often the heart of a community, markets are a place to discover regional foods, experience new flavours and learn about local culture. Home Cooked meals and treats can be spotted here and there, along with fresh fruit and vegetables and meat and fish displayed on everything from tables to colourful plastic sacks lying on a packed dirt floor.

Whether I’m in Bangkok or Chiang Mai, I spend a lot of time exploring markets. In Bangkok, when I stay in Silom, I’ll venture to the market in soi 20 to buy fresh fruit, eat breakfast or enjoy one of my favourite Thai foods, Pla Pao (fish stuffed with lemongrass, salted and grilled).  In Chiang Mai, I venture to somphet market in the old city, or the night food market at Chiang Mai Gate or the Sunday Night market filled with street food and (what feels like) everything under the sun.

Of course, I go to other markets as well. Basically, if I see a market, I divert from my path to check it out. A habit that takes place in every country I visit.

Here are some of my favourite market wanders in Asia.

Thailand


Myanmar


Hong Kong


Sri Lanka

Cafes Confessions: Quebec City Edition

My love of cafes has nothing to do with coffee–I’m not a coffee person–and everything to do with architecture, interior design, ambience, thirst-quenching beverages and good food. While each aspect plays a role in my overall cafe experience, the importance of those roles change depending on where I am travelling at the time.

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Exploring Bangkok’s Lat Mayom Floating Market

A walk through Bangkok’s Khao San road, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and other touristy sites generally results in more than a couple tuk-tuk drivers touting trips to a floating market. While many will accept their offer, there are some who shy away, not wishing to visit an overcrowded market that is filled with more tourists than locals.

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The Chiang Mai Chicken Trifecta

My fingers are sticky and wet, and I can feel juice slowly trickling from the corner of my mouth to my chin; looking around I notice I’m not the only person who decided to eat with my hands, and I feel a sense of relief; I tend to worry about displaying bad manners when eating in a foreign country.

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Indulging in Traditional Polish Food in Poznan

“Why does everyone think we eat pierogi all the time? We eat them maybe twice a year”, states my driver with a slightly annoyed tone.

We’re talking about Warsaw, Poland, and food, and I’ve asked him what Polish dish he thinks every visitor should try during their time in Poland. As you can probably guess, pierogi seems the be the number one choice for many travellers, and who can blame them?! Pierogi are delightful. Mashed potato mixed with cheese, bacon, or onion, wrapped in a dumpling like dough, boiled or fried, and served with sour cream, fried bacon and onion. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! And while we can buy pierogi in the frozen food section of the grocery store, or buy fresh ones from a Polish or Ukrainian (There is a debate as to who invented the pierogi, Poland or Ukraine) shop, there is a part of us that want to eat pierogi in the country that made them famous.

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A Lobster Cooking Class En Français

 

I’ve eaten more than my share of lobsters over the years, but this was the first time I was cooking lobster at home, by myself. It’s not a big deal, you boil a little water with a whole lot of salt, cut the bands off the lobster claws – making sure your hands and the rest of your body is nowhere near the claws – before putting the lobster in the pot head first, and putting a lid on the pot. An easy process.

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Mexican Street Food

 

Mexico is one of those countries where street food is a mandatory experience. It’s home cooking at its very best, and the only way to truly discover the delights of traditional Mexican food. In other words, Mexican street food is the epitome of comfort food. And when I am not in Mexico, I find myself craving some of these foods – like I am right now!

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Sinfully Good Eats At Electric Mud BBQ in Toronto
Toronto has one of Canada’s hottest food scenes, and as such, I have a very long list of restaurants to experience – which seems to grow weekly. This means I am spending less time at the restaurants I adore, and more time exploring new ones. Sometimes trying something new is meh, but sometimes trying something new is fabulous. Electric Mud BBQ was fabulous.

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Going Foodie with Vancouver Foodie Tours

I’m pretty sure that foodie tours are my new favourite pass time. There is just something so very perfect for exploring a city and experiencing it through local foods. Mmm… delicious! During my time in Vancouver last month I had the pleasure of taking not one, but TWO food tours – both through Vancouver Foodie Tours.

Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour, and World’s Best Food Truck Tour. Gourmet + Food trucks = HEAVEN!

The first of my tours was the Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour, which is perfectly named. We started with perfectly steamed pork at shrimp dumplings at Kirin, then headed to Urban Fare (a local grocery store) for Mission Hill Cabernet Merlot wine, salted caramel Thomas Haas chocolates, and Vermeer cheese <—- yumgasm alert!!

Leaving Urban Fare was rather bittersweet – I wanted more cheese and chocolate! But when the next restaurant served prosciutto and burrata cheese, I was once again happy. Have you tried burrata cheese? It is the softest, freshest mozzarella-like cheese I have ever eaten.

When we weren’t eating, we were walking through downtown Vancouver, my guide, Joyce, finding little ‘amphitheatres’ (doorways) to stand in and fill us in on Vancouver’s food scene, the history of some of the architecture, and tease use with tidbits of information about our next meal. Which was always delicious. I swear, it has to be one of the best jobs in the world – until you get annoyed or demanding clients, then it would blow.

My next tour, and possibly my absolute favourite was the World’s Best Food Truck Tour. I am a HUGE street food lover, so food trucks are always a hit with me. I love that the prices are reasonable, the good is usually gourmet, and the servings are large. It’s pretty much the perfect meal – as long as you can track down the food trucks in the city you’re visiting. Now, I could write about each and every stop, but why do that when I can just show you!

Here is a (not-so-good) video of my tour, minus the repeated, “OMG this is SO good’. Yes, I really did say that every single time!!