Interested in living in Thailand’s Esan Area? You know, the one with villages, animals, and more nature?
Isan is home to one-third of Thailand's population of 67 million, but contributes only ten per cent to the national GDP.
Isan's culture is predominantly Lao, and has much in common with that of the neighbouring country of Laos. This affinity is shown in the region's cuisine, dress, temple architecture, festivals, and arts.
Isan food has elements most in common with Laos and is somewhat distinct from central Thai cuisine. The most obvious difference is the consumption of sticky rice that accompanies almost every meal rather than non-sticky long-grain rice.
French and Vietnamese influences found in Lao cuisine are absent in Isan. Popular Lao dishes that are also staples in Isan include tam mak hung, or in central Thai, som tam (green papaya salad), larb (meat salad), and kai yang (grilled chicken). These dishes have spread to other parts of Thailand, but normally in versions which temper the extreme heat and sourness favoured in Isan for the more moderate central Thai palate.
Conversely, central Thai food has become popular in Isan. The people of the Isan region in Thailand, a mixture of Lao, Vietnamese, Khmer, Mon, Cham, and other Tai groups, famously eat a wide variety of creatures, such as lizards, frogs, and fried insects such as grasshoppers, crickets, silkworms, and dung beetles.
Originally forced by poverty to be creative in finding foods, Isan people now savour these creatures as delicacies or snacks. Food is commonly eaten by hand using sticky rice pressed into a ball with the fingers of the right hand. Soups are a frequent element of any meal, and contain either vegetables and herbs, noodles, chunks of fish, balls of ground pork, or a mixture of these. They are eaten using a spoon and chopsticks at the same time.
Chalida explores all the questions and ideas of entering and living in the countryside.
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