Life, Zen And Sunday Market At The Thai Temple

If the phone rings one more time…

If the person sitting next to me at work says one more word…

By Friday, enough is enough.

Then there is the Sunday Market at the Thai Temple in Tampa, Wat Mongkolratanram. Don’t try to pronounce it, just call it Wat Tampa.

I’d heard people talking about the Thai Temple on Food Nation Radio Network for the last few years, but only recently did I make the short drive from Saint Petersburg to Tampa for their Sunday Market. The Market began in 1993, according to their website, with just two tables. Today, there are dozens of tables with scores of people lined up for specialties like Guiteow, the beef or pork noodle soup, fried bananas and Som Dom, a papaya salad. Spring rolls made with chicken and vegetables plus the refreshing coconut beverages and curry dishes line the tables. There are many more things to try, so it may take a few visits to taste everything. The prices are outrageously reasonable, with most items at $5 or less.

While in line, a family from Lakeland talks about making the trip to Tampa just to have the Guiteow. With excitement in their eyes and grumbling in their stomachs after the long drive, they walk off with their soup with big smiles on their faces. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is polite and considerate at the Sunday Market, chatting amicably while waiting for the ever-patient cooks and vendors to serve up more goodness.

Grab your treasure trove of food and walk a few steps to the Palm River for a picnic table. Generally, there’s a pleasant, almost cool breeze coming off the water. While you are slurping on some noodle soup, a few people looking for a seat may ask if they can share your table. Their stories vary. My dining companion and I met a couple from Tampa who just wanted to try something new and be a little adventurous. We’ve run into servers and bartenders from restaurants we frequent at the Temple, looking for some respite from their usual Sunday hangouts.

The grounds at Wat Tampa are beautiful and show pride in the philosophy and heritage represented there. After lunch, take a walk over to the flowers and shrubs available for sale and you’ll see what I mean. Keep in mind there are a few pointers you may want to read to show proper respect for their grounds and temple while you are visiting. The English version of their website is here: Wat Tampa. Maybe I’ll see you there sometime.

Elizabeth Dougherty has been a food writer for over 10 years, attended culinary school and holds a Bachelor’s degree, Magna Cum Laude in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations from NYIT. She has been a talk show host of nearly 150 episodes of Food Nation Radio which airs each Saturday afternoon at 4 on WWBA AM820 News and  other stations. You can read her articles and hear previous shows on her podcast page on the Food Nation Radio Network website and on Facebook.