Thursday, May 28, 2009

Talad Ying Charoen

This was my favorite day in Bangkok. Chef arranged for us to tag along with his group of 30 or so. They were all in the food business and were there as a guest of the Thailand Department of Culture . That is how we ended up being in Bangkok. Chef told us he was going with this group, we ask if we could meet him there and the rest is history.

Chef had full days so we were on our own a lot. Tuesday they were to visit the Ying Chareon Market and there was room for us on the bus. And what a bus it was! It came with a sleeping cowboy.


The Ying Charoen is a wet market, talad sod in Thai. A wet market is the traditional market place to shop for all things food in Bangkok. For a very long time it was the only way to shop, now it competes with supermarkets and flea markets for customers.The wet market is a dying breed. In the last ten years the number of wet markets in Bangkok has dropped from 150 to only 60.

The wet market we visited, Ying Charoen, is the model wet market of the furture. It is owned and operated by Parinya Tumwattana and his family. Mr. Tumwattanas Mother started this market 54 years ago and it was the most successful of it kind for many of those years. As time and progress changed the standards of living in Bangkok the wet market was getting left behind. Mr Tumwattansa knew his market needed to change as well.

He has spent the last ten years, more or less, updating the Ying Charoen Market. Hygiene was the number one concern. Today each vendor has refrigeration, running water and a responsibility to help keep things clean. There are daily inspections from the Health Department and classes are offered to the vendors to teach them how to handle perishable foods. The classes take place right there at the market in their state of the art kitchen.

We met with Mr. Tumwattana first thing that day and you could tell how proud he was of his market. He spoke about how he and the vendors were a large family. How they had worked together to make this new concept work because it was the only way to continue the tradition of the old wet markets. As we listened to Mr. Tumwattansa speak I thought his ideas were brilliant and compassionate, then we went downstairs to the market and that’s when I realized how much work went in to all he had talked about. Just look at some of these photos Stacey took as we toured and tasted our way through the Ying Charoen Market.