About the Rambler



Welcome to my ramblings on dinner & drink, people & places, our planet’s health & the future of food. I’m a journalist, author and media trainer. My kitchen forever smells of garlic and curry. And much like my mother, I start thinking of dinner long before breakfast….

The Vegetable Lady

The Vegetable Lady

I think it’s high time ya’all meet our regular veggie vendor at Ton Payom market down the road here in Chiang Mai. Mrs. Cheebwangkham, otherwise known as “The Vegetable Lady,” displays some of the prettiest, healthiest (yes, we do find the occasional worm) goods in town. Of course, the market is full of stalls like these, but we keep returning to Cheebwangkham.

Most people around here develop a relationship with their food vendors. Cheebwangkham is always happy to see us after a long absence, she’s come to know our tastes and she usually knocks a few baht off the bill. This sort of personal connection is one of the things I love about shopping in Asia. No Saran-Wrapped cardboard tomatoes stocked by a stranger; nothing that’s been on a truck for days on end. It’s good to know your veggies come from nearby farms, and it’s good to know the lady who sells them!

Vegetables at our market

6 comments to The Vegetable Lady

  • andy bronson

    Who new veggies had protein? What’s a few worms between friends?

  • Jojo

    I wish we had access to fresh fruit and veggies like that! We only get a farmers market in the summer, and it’s not real convenient (the other side of town). It’s too bad that people in the states are so disconnected from the sources of food, they might eat better here if the quality of the produce was better!

  • Jenny

    For those of us in the U.S. lucky enough to have year round farmers’ markets, you have given all the right reasons to frequent them, Karen. Yes, we’ve got the requisite worm and bug population, familiar people offering their best stuff, and the best strawberries ever. All organic. The cherries are a bit watery this spring, but that’s the only complaint.

    Hugs,
    Mom in CA

  • [...] Here’s another thing I adore about Asian cooking and shopping: the stunning abundance of herbs. Bunches and bunches, piles and piles. Pictured above is what I bring home from an average trip to the market. Cilantro and green onions are often sold together. Mint and basil (Cheebwangkham always has at least three basil varieties available) are pre-bundled, tied with a natural-fiber string or rattan. It’s impossible to buy a small amount! Sometimes I make a jar of pesto. Sometimes I add mint to our pitcher of drinking water. And still, we have too much. What isn’t eaten ends up in our compost pile, eventually scattered around our plants. [...]

  • [...] In Asia, many of my friends have no refrigerators. They’re lucky if they have an ice cooler. They shop in the market every day. In Chiang Mai, I’d fill our little guy to the max and that would last us approximately three days. When the fridge went empty, I’d walk a few blocks up the street to the Royal Project store and the wet market a block beyond. We had a friendly relationship with The Vegetable Lady. [...]

  • [...] But I recall fondly those nights a few weeks ago (seems so distant), while still in the house-hunting stage and not yet in the house deconstruction-reconstruction phase, when we had time for dinner on the back patio. One night I made a dish that had been a Chiang Mai favorite, a dish I’d create when The Vegetable Lady had potatoes and I had a hankering for something un-Asian. Mashed potatoes! [...]

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