I was at the family farm this morning at the same time breakfast was being served. For newbies to the Isaan life, I thought I would make a couple of observations, which might be enlightening.
Firstly, there is no such thing as different meals for the phases of the day. Breakfast looks like lunch, which could also be dinner. If you have tried a breakfast buffet at a Thai hotel, you will have noticed that often there is a hot selection of foods for local, which have nothing to do with what we'd regard as breakfast offerings.
My take on this, certainly in an Isaan rural context, is that it relates back to times when whatever was growing or caught in the fields ended up on the plate. They didn't have the luxury of being selective and breaking their meals into food categories as we do.
The second observation, is that there are no eating implements. This follows onto the reason why that is so, which is that food like this is based around sticky rice picked out of the basket with fingers and then dipped into the selection of dishes. The main ingredient is the rice, not the other components. The fish, for example, isn't eaten as a single dish, which is what we'd see its role. Small pieces are picked off and added to a ball of sticky rice to give flavour. You can categorise many Isaan dishes as dipping sauce to rice. Once again this reflects on poorer times when the core of any meal was rice, and whatever else was available, often in limited quantities, was the bonus.
The third aspect of this meal, is that raw ingredients are typically included. Eggplant and turkey berries in this case. On the whole, this is a healthy meal, eaten fresh. What isn't finished now will be kept for lunch. It is what powers the amazing workload these two farmers put into their day, so something must be right.
Thank you for reading.