Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Songkran Festival at Wat Thai, Silver Spring, MD

I went to the Songkran, Thai New Year, Festival held at the Wat Thai temple in Silver Spring, MD this past Sunday. There were dozens of food stands serving different Thai dishes, and even though I arrived as soon as the festival opened, it was already crowded.
Since it was my first trip to this event, I decided to head to the food stand with the longest line first. I made a good choice because it led to my favorite taste of the day, a version of the floating market noodle soup. When I made it to the front, I could see a pile of roast pork as well as other pig parts. They asked me if I wanted everything, and I said, "yes, please".
I received a bowl of dark broth loaded with meat, a soy egg, and rice noodles that were square and came in small rolls. This was topped with cilantro & ginger. At a side table, they told me to add some fish sauce, a spicy vinegary sauce and chili powder. The resulting flavor was sweet and savory, and as I ate, it became more and more spicy.

Now I love all kinds of noodle soups, with authentic Japanese ramen being at the top of the list. I think after having floating market soup, it might just be second on the list, toppling off Vietnamese pho.
When I finished, I proceeded to check out other food stands, sampling small bits of what a could and trying to negotiate for loosies. I felt like Chris Rock from an old skit from back in the day, "How much for a wing? Just one wing."
It seemed like every other stand had grilled satays. I gravitated to one that had pork and beef meatballs. They were drizzled with sweet chile sauce.
I also tried a table that made small savory balls of tapioca filled with pork and chiles.
In the deep frying section of the festival, they were making fresh pork rinds, fried banana, and sweet potato. I had nibbles of all three, the best being the pork rind.

I went on to explore the dessert stands. There was one with that had "soups" that were made of sticky rice or tapioca with fruits, coconut milk and other items. I tried one item that was described to me as Thai "jello", which was a firm custard made with coconut milk on top and taro on the bottom. They also had sweet fried taro cakes that were good.

I made sure I saved room for durian fruit with sticky rice and coconut milk. If you've never had durian, it is a fruit that you either love or hate as it has a strong pungent odor to it. It's texture reminds me of a roasted garlic bulb, soft and a little stringy.
I had another order to eat later, mango with black sticky rice and custard. The black rice is more toothsome than the white rice.

I also picked up a couple curries to eat over the next couple days. First, I had a fish curry. The fish was ground very fine and it was loaded with ginger. I think it's usually supposed to be poured over noodles, but I didn't have any so I used rice instead.

The second curry I got was a red curry with pork belly. This was tasty as well, and again, had a lot of ginger in it.
After this safari, I still have a craving for that floating market soup. It needs to be the next fast food craze.

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