Navigating a Thai produce market can be daunting. It’s a range of unfamiliar, but colorful assortments of everything local. We recently wandered around the Or Tor Kor Market in Bangkok to sample the unknown. This market is located right across from the Chatuchak (JJ) Weekend Market making it a perfect place to escape the sweaty, narrow alleys of clothing stalls that you’ll find across the street.
Or Tor Kor is the high-end market in Bangkok. Meant for the upscale restaurants’ daily specials or the local elite with inflated prices to prove it. But if you’re a western tourist traveling on western dollars you’ll hardly even notice. This is supposed to be the good stuff; the freshest of the fresh and best of the best.
So here is what our guide (my mother) took us around to touch, taste, and smell.
The infamous durian. I smelled this stuff in my garage growing up after one wouldn’t even think of bringing it inside. Many higher class hotels in Thailand ban the fruit from the premises. Because it stinks. Some say like raw sewage, rotten onions, or propane. Not something I wanted to try when I was a child. But now I’m slightly older, slightly wiser, and a little more adventerous so we gave it a go.
The sign next to the gac stand said it was the fruit from heaven. A super fruit of sorts. 70 times more lycopene than tomatoes; 20 times more beta carotene than carrots; 40 times more vitamin C than oranges; 40 times more zeaxanthin than yellow corn. Wow. I don’t know what zeaxanthin is, but it sounds important.
We first tried pomelo after ordering Yam Som-O at a restaurant in Bangkok. We were blown away. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. But pomelos aren’t just good for a salad. Also known as a Chinese Grapefruit, they can be eaten just like you would a normal grapefruit – for breakfast or as a light snack.
Also known as a mountain apple. We picked up a few to try, but unfortunately they started to mold before we got a chance to try them (within 3 days). I guess they taste like apples?
For some reason I thought these were lychee. But I guess I didn’t know what lychee was. Both have a hard shell on the outside. White fleshy fruit on the inside. Slightly sweet. I think longan would go good in some sort of girly vodka-based cocktail.
This really is a beautiful fruit. The white, dotted interior contrasts well with the bright pink exterior. But there is more to a good fruit than just good looks. Dragonfruit grows off a form of cactus. But who knew there were cacti in tropical countries? Well they are transplanted cacti. Rumored to originally come from Mexico, but no one knows the real truth leaving this fantastical fruit shrouded in mystery. Sexy.
Mangosteen – the forbidden fruit. Seriously. You can’t get this stuff in the U.S. because it’s illegal to import. Off limits must mean it’s delicious. It’s only entrance into the U.S. was through a multi-level marketing company selling the fruit’s juice in a drink called Xango. Never had it, but I’m gonna go find some of that hippy nectar as soon as I get home.