Jay 2009

 Making khanom tup tap in Bangkok's Chinatown during the annual vegetarian festival I'm a bit late on relaying this, but Thailand's annual Jay or vegetarian festival is currently is full swing. I've made a couple trips to Bangkok's Chinatown, the centre of activity, and I can report with confidence that the offerings are as vegetable-free and oily as ever:

One of the numerous stalls selling deep-fried food in Bangkok's Chinatown during the annual vegetarian festival

Although, at least as far as I'm aware, there have never been claims that the food sold during the vegetarian festival includes vegetables or is supposed to be healthy, I'm shocked at how overwhelmingly veggie-free and deep-fried, and how eerily meat-like the offerings are (is going without meat for 10 days really so difficult that it necessitates the invention of mock pork intestines?). A more accurate name for the event would be the Deep-Fried Fake Meat and Carbohydrate festival. I also find it fascinating that an event with apparent origins in sacrifice and asceticism has instead become an exercise in gluttonous indulgence. But I'd be a hypocrite to slag off anything with copious amounts of food as a central tenet, particularly when this is the only time of the year when I can get freshly-made khanom tub tap. This is a sweet made by pounding syrup and peanuts into a flaky shell (the process of which is pictured at the top of this post), which then is stretched and rolled around more ground peanuts -- the Asian version of a Butterfinger candy bar.

Enjoy the meat-free fun until Tuesday, October 29. But if it's veggies you're looking for, I'd suggest staying at home and fixing yourself a nice salad.