Thursday, January 24, 2013

Making Merit


This post is a little past due- my apologies!  I've been a little busy.

Today I went to a wedding!  It was neat- but I'll talk about that in its due time.  First, I'd like to talk briefly about the "merit-making" celebration I attended last week, intended to bring honor to the deceased grandparents of the host of the event.

It was a two-day event, but I was only there for the evening of the second day.  First, there was praying.  After that, there was food!

I should have kept taking pictures- this came out, and I thought it was it, but as it was the food just kept coming and coming and coming.  They had barbecued fish, vegetables, fried chicken and pork, thai spaghetti (from rice noodles), la (an isan specialty), soup, sticky rice, an eggplant sauce... the list goes on.  By the time they finished bringing out food the table was completely full.

I also had my first beer in Thailand!

'Chang' means 'Elephant'

It was... ok.  I think it was made of rice, though I can't be totally sure.  It's flavor was mild- not very hoppy, not too much body.  If it were cold, I could see it being very refreshing.  Served warm, though, it was just a little lacking.

The cooks hard at work.  Note the Thai Spaghetti in the foreground.

After dinner, there was entertainment.  We didn't stay too too long, but there was a large stage set up, with a small band and singers and dancers.  It was more pop than traditional, although Geoffrey mentioned that there might be some traditional music later in the evening. My picture is just a little blurry...

Set up around the stage were a number of food carts and carnival type games.  I bought icecream from one-- it came in a hotdog bun, served with coconut milk.  I guess that's how they do it here.

The vendor had a deep, thick-walled vat for the icecream

Yes, it really was a hotdog bun.  I think it even said "hotdog" on the package it came out of.

These are smoked (?) squished blowfish.  I would have tried some, but at that point I was stuffed to bursting.

Set up near the entrance of the festival was a large structure made out of folded bamboo leaves.  It had some ceremonial purpose to house offerings to the grandparents- there was a small hole in one side of it that people had thrown money and rice into.  I had the good fortune to meet the man who made it--he was extremely proud of his work, and I think he was also pleased to see that an American appreciated it as well.

In the foreground is a picture of the grandmother.  In the background you can see a bananaleaf house.  To the right are comforters and other textiles and gifts- it's unclear to me if these were gifts or offerings.

This was all banana leaves! Note the small hole on the right side for offerings.

This spire would hold the bones of the deceased grandfather, per Buddhist tradition.

On the way out, I noticed the women had begun cooking again.  I still couldn't eat any more, but judging by the size of the pots they were using, they must have been planning on a long night!

mmm fish :)

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