Thailand…Travel and Traditions…Village Life…Northern Thailand( Essan)

Whenever we visit our Thai family’s village on this occasion it was to collect our grandson, he often stays with his brown Nannie ( as he calls her) no racism intended during his school holidays. They live in a little village in the middle of nowhere in Northern Thailand where he has the freedom to climb trees, go fishing or lizard hunting he gets to ride his nan’s scooter as the roads are very quiet and safe all the things boys love without too many rules…They get dirty but so happy…

The shower was a bucket of water or a hose pipe in the early days but now they have a wet room of sorts but still, the tub of water is there …a mixture of the old and new…squat toilets are still the norm in many homes here…A habit I have had to embrace…

We are always made soooo welcome..chairs are bought out and we sit and gradually the whole village comes to see us…Lots of happy smiling faces.

The welcome is second to none..always the same…lots of smiling faces and the food comes out…Thai dishes galore…I always take treats for the kids and maybe some toys or clothes I pick up on my travels or that Aston or Lily have outgrown …Those are the ones the kids love as often they are trainers or something from England…then the fashion show begins they just love getting something of Astons…

Circular recycling is the norm here and there is no stigma about hand me downs it is a way of life…


Uncooked prawns with a blow your head off chilli dip. It consists of very finely chopped white cabbage, finely sliced and halved…Khiewchanta……arranged round the edge of plate……..Fresh prawns, cleaned, deveined and soaked in Soda Water…..Fresh mint leaves and finely sliced garlic.

bitter-gourd-raw prawnsEaten with steamed rice and very lightly cooked squid in a salad with tomatoes, spring onion, coriander, fish sauce and lime juice…… all fresh from the market about an hour before or freshly picked from the garden that’s the great thing about living here every day there is fresh produce available everywhere.

I watched and helped prepare a red ant soup made with local herbs and leaves some of which I had not seen before. One of the ingredients Pla a fermented fish which is very popular in dishes here in the North of Thailand is not one of my favourites, the look, the smell and the taste are not for me. Saying that my natural curiosity to taste everything is often an overriding factor so what I am saying is I am getting used to it…Still not my favourite but getting used to it… I never thought I would say that…so never say never.

Firstly we stripped the leaves from the Thai vegetable called Melientha sauvis or in Thai Phak waan paa which comes from a wild evergreen tree which grows up to 10 metres high and it is the young shoots which are picked to make soup or dried fish curry.

It is classed as a delicacy here and a quite expensive indigenous vegetable. I was told that the soup is also good if you have tummy problems…..I love that the Thais in the villages still practise the old ways with herbs and roots to cure a number of ills… Rather than conventional medicines which some cannot afford or trust.

Before I start I will say that there are no weighing scales here but TASTE is king and that’s what cooking is about. A handful of this and a touch of that.

Let’s cook! 

Take a bunch of Melientha and strip the leaves also take a small bunch of lemon basil and do the same. Put in water.

Tear the yellow oyster mushrooms into smallish pieces and put in another pot.

Yellow Oyster MushroomsA few teaspoons of pla was put in the pot and some water added as well as a shake or two of fish sauce and a little msg….I do not use this in my cooking but I know that it still used in the majority of village homes. As I have become more proficient with my Thai cooking and the family have tried it without MSG and liked it…I am hoping I can get them to change…Slowly but surely I am getting my point over…

Melientha cooking in potThis was bought to the boil and the mushrooms were added, this was simmered for 5 mins and then the picked greens were added alongside a portion of red ants eggs.

It looked lovely and fresh and vibrant…I was however not looking forward to the tasting because of the amount of pla…Pla or Phla is a fermented fish which is popular here and added to most dishes…

A dish was duly given to me with smiles of expectation …Would I eat it? Would I like it?

Very tentatively I tasted it…Wow, it was good…The lemon basil and the ant’s eggs.which have a lemony taste overrode the strong taste of the pla but I will say the taste mellows when cooked…..A truly lovely taste of Thailand.

If you ever get the chance to cook with the locals then take the opportunity…I feel truly blessed that they are family and I have many opportunities to do this.

I hope you enjoyed reading and seeing real Thai cooking just as it is…

The Laos whiskey we bought went down a treat once we had managed to open it of course…haha…That was a job and a half …Once opened it has been packed with straw and then you insert supplied bamboo straws and suck…

It was unexpectedly soft, honeyed whiskey…Very nice, potent, guaranteed to put a smile on ones face…Astons nan taking a sip or three…

Time to come home and we always came away with lots of fresh fruit and vegetable like lemongrass, galangal, morning glory, kale and honey still in the comb..all wonderfully freshly picked, dug up and gave to us with so much love…I, of course, left the wine glasses I had taken for next time, with the promise I would bring more wai Khao( white wine) for the ladies…a treat for them.  The men by now were merry on the Laos whiskey we had bought and some other drink ( not sure ) of the origin but infused with honey and ginger…it tasted quite potent. It was certainly the land of smiles…

A lovely afternoon.

I of course slipped and stacked it…..I hurt my big toe and received an impromptu Thai foot massage…which was very nice.

I hope you have enjoyed this snapshot of life in a Thai Village…

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and wellbeing.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there will be more on this on my blog this year

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

More and more of my blogging friends have joined me on MeWe…A social media site which is fairly new and which promises much without the restrictions some other social media sites are choosing to impose on many of us…Join me if you will on 

Carol is a contributor to the Phuket Island Writers Anthology:

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Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a creative week ahead and all you Tennis fans …Enjoy! xx





20 thoughts on “Thailand…Travel and Traditions…Village Life…Northern Thailand( Essan)

  1. dgkaye

    How wonderful that everyone respect’s one another and the children have a richly diversified family. Interesting recipe Carol. I think my mouth is still agape at ‘red ant soup’ LOL 🙂 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I know Debby it is lovely to be part of it and learn that it’s the little things in life that matter and make you happy. Red ants I have watched them collected and baulked at trying them and been pleasantly surprised and I also can’t think of a more fitting ending for the little stingers I can’t count how many times they have bitten me…haha Karma xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. CarolCooks2 Post author

        If you lived here you would feel the same me ants are everywhere you only need to drop the tiniest crumb and they are on it…Salad or soup is a fitting end for them, blighters…xxx


  2. Pingback: Thailand…Travel and Traditions…Village Life…Northern Thailand( Essan) | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  3. Pingback: CarolCooks2…Weekly Roundup…Recipes, Food Safety and more… | Retired? No one told me!

  4. robertawrites235681907

    Reading this feels quite surreal, Carol, almost like reading about another time. I was reading an article about the modern luddites who are anti technology as they say that humans have to conform to the demands of the machines rather than vice versa. When you read this you really question who has the better lifestyle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CarolCooks2 Post author

      I feel like that living here Robbie..I am more at peace with myself if that makes sense. I think we should all take a step back sometimes as when I was working and living in the UK most of the time life was frantic there was not a good work life balance there. Thais use technology but for many it is just a phone for contact…with my Thai family life revolves around their children, farm and the old nan as everyone calls her we went for a visit the other week just a short one and went to see her she was sat under cover out of the sun but could see everyone going about their business, she had a drink , some fruit and she has a bad eye the dressing was spotless and looked after extremely well by everyone..Not stuck in a room and forgotten she is included if they go to the shop she has her place there or the farm she has her place there so all the time she is included and I think that is lovely and I see evidence in that from my neighbours,when I walk to market the elderly are always seated close to the young and family we have lost that in the western world all those homes and so much abuse and loneliness it isn’t right . Don’t get me wrong there is extreme poverty here but people help neighbours there are real communities. Thank you for your comment, Robbie 🙂 xxx



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