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This post is awesome!! Incredibly patient and thoughtful.It's the kind of 'information' one wouldn't have gotten even if they pay! It's more than what it reads and readers find it useful in different ways. And you are 'generously' giving it for free...that makes it just awesome!
The photographs too of course - brilliant stuff.
Will come back and read it again...there is something very oddly intriguing about this place I still think...


Gorgeous photos - you've captured the raw beauty and deliciousness of this market! How fascinating that rattan is edible!


Your photography is simply amazing! And such lovingly observant exploration of markets and local sights. Love this post!


Great shots and writing, as always.

John McCollum

Wow. The spring rolls look particularly amazing this morning.

I love your work, and find myself returning again and again, just to admire the fantastic photography.

If, perchance, you'll be anywhere near Wiang Pa Pow, Thailand (a couple hours north of Chiang Mai) next July, I'd love to invite you to an authentic Karen tribal barbecue at one of our orphan homes.

I'll even let you stab the sucker yourself if you like...


Teri Y.

I'm an avid fan of pho but haven't heard of fer. Would love to try it although I'm not sure if I can get it in Chicago (sigh). Does it taste anything like pho?


thanks for the cool post. did you try rattan, is it kind of like bamboo shoot?


Lao Gan Ma is the branding for that range of condiments - it means old godmother, which I suppose is the old lady pictured on the label.

I think the chilli and black bean combination is called Fengwei Douchi (appetising bean paste). So tasty you could eat it with a spoon!


I was going to ask about the rattan, how does it taste like?

Gan Ma 干妈 (干originated from 乾 as in ‘dried’) is equivalent to godmother, albeit without religious or legal obligations. I am not sure why it’s called乾妈. But it may well to do with the Chinese Heaven and Earth (天乾地支) and zodiac signs. In the tradition (though no one really practice it nowadays), you should ‘adopt’ a Gan Ma whose zodiac signs match with yours – because they are there to shelter and bring goodness to your life. I suppose you could say Gan Ma is a ‘symbolic’ god send mother. But that’s just my thought.

Anyway, this Lao Gan Ma in real life is a 50 something old woman called 陶华碧, illiterate, born and raised in a poor rural village in Gueizhou and she invented the sauce to mix with the Liangfen and Liangmian (cool jelly and cool noodle) she sold. A modern condiment fairytale.

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