Yasothon is green, has a lot of sloping tropical forest and extensive rice fields. Thai call this region the Isaan, it is the poor northeast of Thailand. In Yasothon you are already almost in Laos, the neighboring country that has had a huge influence on this region in the past. You can see this in the style of the temples, but you especially taste it every day when you eat Thai. Many popular Thai dishes come from the Isaan and have their origin in Laos (although not all Thai like to admit it).
We travelled to Yasothon. Every now and then we do that, to talk to the farmers again and look at the crops. It is a good moment, because we can pick a fresh harvest of chilies again. The chilies look beautiful, inviting. The other ingredients for a spicy dish you can think of.
The buckets next to the feet of the women, which are covered from head to toe to protect them from the piercing sun, are already starting to get quite full. We look at them while we're being updated by a representative of the local farmers' organisation, who helps us to get these farmers to grow organic crops. We get organically grown peppers, the farmers have a guaranteed sale, at a decent price.
A bit later and about twenty kilometers further on we walk over the fields of a farm where lime leaves are grown for us. The plants are still small, they still need to be planted for a while. The funny leaves, the two of them grow fraternally on one and the same stem, are kept well wet. There are sprinklers everywhere. The only sound you hear is the hissing of the water.
Lime leaves give a fresh taste to dishes. It's a great pity we can't send them fresh from Asia to Europe. The leaves turn brown within a few days. Freezing is possible, but then you have leaves that quickly become limp after thawing. That is why they are dried here immediately after picking and then sent as soon as possible.
Just like the lime leaves, the peppers love it here. When they are allowed to stand in the shade, they enjoy the heat to the fullest. Green chilies are actually not ripe red chilies yet. So they can be picked earlier, usually after a day or a hundred. Red chilies take a month longer to get their beautiful color and come to full richness.
There will also be a short meeting, but not too long. About twenty farmers have gathered to talk to the farmers' organization and us. Some have already brought a good bag of chili peppers. The rest of the chili is drying outside. The harvest was good, on to the next one.