Back home, my breakfast usually consists of a cup of coffee. Back in my working life, however, I loved hearty, social breakfasts. Like the regular Tuesday working breakfast in London, with our regional management team, with a full English fry up. Or, even more to my liking, early morning steak breakfasts on Wall Street with people that were too busy during the day to meet. Or many years earlier, when I was still running my own show, a slice of boiled pork belly on a German bread-roll…
Different folks different strokes. Somehow I prefer the salty side over the sweet side for breakfast. Many others think opposite.
Nowadays I mainly have breakfast when I am on the road and have time and leisure on my hand. And I do try to adapt to local customs. In South East Asia I go for soups for breakfast.
As many of you know, I am a soup addict and I also have a ready pot of soup at home most of the time.
For whatever reason, my favourite morning soup of all soups is pork soup with offal and noodles. I had discovered my dream soup by accident some years ago. My German friends with whom I would travel Asia and I always would meet up at a simple hotel near the Bangkok airport (with free airport shuttle) and start our journeys from there. The hotel had a horrible breakfast for tourists. So, I decided one morning to venture into the next village (a 10 minute walk) to see what was available there. And I found the key to happiness!
A middle-aged lady with a primitive plastic table restaurant that would serve pork soup with offal for breakfast. Nothing else. I tried it and was immediately carried away and hooked.
Since then I have “built in” an overnight stay at the Bangkok airport whenever possible just to have that soup for breakfast! There are many pork soups available in Asia, with blood, offal and whatever. But none of them could match “my “soup!
And now, for the first time, I have found an equivalent! In the little village Bosang, East of Chiang Mai. At the local market that works only from 4am till 8am. A lady who every day prepares only this single soup. I found her by accident.
And now I had to get up early every morning to start the day with absolute happiness!
This is the market:
And here is the mother of happiness, with her broth that is balanced and pungent at the same time and where I am at a lack of words to describe this heavenly concoction. Let me just say that it consists of 75% umami
And this is what your (or rather: my!) bowl will look like:
There is an abundance of goodies on the table that you can add to your soup bowl (free of charge): green things, chillies, lemon grass…
Devouring this bowl of soup will make you walk away light-hearted and light-footed, in balance with yourself and your taste buds, ready to conquer the world.
To top it all off, the price for this gift of the gods is 10 THB – about 50 Stotinki or 26 €-Cents. Unbelievable.
The discovery of this soup gave me at least as much joy as finding a grossly under-priced grand Bordeaux somewhere. I am(was) a lucky man.
Tomorrow it’s back to Hanoi – and the end of my soup paradise. Somehow, however, I have a hunch that this may not have been the last time that I am in the Chiang Mai region.