I found these crazy-looking plants in a local wet market at the base of Phu Rua National park in Loei province yesterday afternoon. An old lady was selling plants from the roadside and forest (Loei people are apparently known to be formidable foragers) across from a stall displaying animal traps, snares, and freshly skinned rats.
Nobody who has seen these photos (+/- a few hundred Thais in person and my wife’s Facebook) has ever tried these plants before. But the old lady told me how to prepare them, so we steamed them and ate with a green chili dip (the alternative was to make a soup).
As it turns out, the bigger of the two types of plant (the alien eye stalk one) was better than the smaller iceplant-looking one. If you ate the “eyes” one at a time, they were sweet, but the more you put in your mouth, the more bitter they got. Strange. The iceplant-looking one tasted like… well, like how I imagine iceplant to taste (Thank you, thank you).
Although I associate bitter vegetables with poison for some reason (college flashbacks maybe?), we suffered no ill effects from eating these unknown plants, maybe (Nam had a funny stomach feeling possibly due to the cold she was getting over). Overall experience: Exciting in good and bad ways, anticlimactic.