The Quest for Mrs. Pa’s Fruit Shakes

Dragon fruit smoothie in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I come to a stop at the intersection by Chiang Mai Gate and wait for the pedestrian light to turn green. A tall farang with forest green hippie pants and a linen tunic towers next to me. I try not to stare at his long goat-like beard and turban of dreads that sits wrapped on his head. He’s clearly been here too long and I begin to wonder if my appearance will alter over the next few months in this town – not quite that drastically, I hope.

Once I reach the other side of the busy street it’s time to begin searching through the maze of food stands that convene along the length of Bumrung Buri Road.

There is a woman in a colourful hijab cooking up banana and egg roti with chocolate sauce drizzled over top. Next to her another vendor hastily packages mango sticky rice into styrofoam containers for a growing queue of customers. And just a few steps over, a man is chopping up a boiled duck with a cleaver.

I, however, am not looking for any of those stands, especially not the last one. I am here on a quest for what promises to be the best fruit shake in Chiang Mai – I am looking for Mrs. Pa.

Mrs. Pa's Fruit Shakes by Chiang Mai Gate, Thailand

For two consecutive days I have not been able to find her, but on Tuesday night I spot her small stand near the moat. Fresh mangoes, papayas, apples and limes are piled on and around her work station. I walk up slowly, unsure if I recognize the woman behind the counter as the Mrs. Pa from the CNN article, but sure enough it’s her.

I’ve hit the jackpot!

With no menu to order from, I point at the ripe mangoes and ask what other fruits go well with that. She suggests pineapple and passionfruit for “a little sour”, and a few minutes later I am sipping away at a refreshing blend of fruits with a tangy hint. Not bad Mrs. Pa, not bad!

Tropical fruits for smoothies

I am back the following night looking to try something new and I ask her what’s good. Her fruit selection is slightly different today and she blends carrots, apples, oranges and limes into yet another delicious smoothie. I take a big sip of the foamy orange mixture in my cup, and she replenishes it with more from the blender. Nothing goes to waste here.

It probably comes as no surprise that I am back again for a third time the day after that. It is still early in the night and the market has by no means hit its peak, yet Mrs. Pa’s fruit stand is swarming with a mixture of thirsty locals and foreigners.

I stand back and watch the different smoothies being served up and I ponder what to get this time. It’s the magenta blend of fruits whirring around in the blender for the customer ahead that catches my eye.

Pink dragon fruit

“What’s that fruit?” I ask Mrs. Pa and she slices a dragon fruit before my eyes to reveal a vibrant pink interior. I can hardly believe my eyes; isn’t dragon fruit supposed to be white with black seeds? It’s decided, “I’ll have that one!”

Three days in a row – she has gained a new convert.

In every country I go to I have what I call a ‘food mamma’. This is usually someone who makes great local food on budget, with a little love for cooking sprinkled in. I found a food mamma who cooked tofu stew in a little basement restaurant in Korea, a food mamma who made pho and fresh spring rolls for me in Hoi An, and now I have found another food mamma who makes amazing fruit shakes just down the road from my apartment in Chiang Mai.

This is going to be a good summer.

Have you tried Mrs. Pa’s fruit shakes?

Do you have a ‘food mamma’ back at home?

Join the Conversation

22 Comments

  1. says: Chris

    We actually moved to Chiang Mai just for Mrs. Pa’s fruit shakes…

    Ok, maybe not, but we do get one almost every night (except on Sundays). She is such a sweet lady! We live 1 km south of Chiang Mai Gate and are in love with the food scene on the south side of the city. One of my goals is to pay for a random stranger’s shake order at her stand at least once a week (check out the full list of my goals on our blog). I am off to get a shake right now…lychee and watermelon!

    1. says: Audrey

      Haha, not a bad reason to move here at all. 😉 The street food vendors around Chiang Mai gate have been one of the main highlights of my time here so far. So much good food in one place!

  2. Yum yum yum! I love dragon fruit, and Mrs. Pa’s fruit shakes sound amazing. I’ve definitely found a few people I would call my ‘food mamas’ in Taiwan. My favorite one makes the best beef noodle soup, but instead of using regular noodles, she uses a spoon to scoop the noodle dough into balls. It is a-mazing! I’m pretty sure I’ve learned the most Chinese from my food mama encounters, too.

    1. says: Audrey

      Ooo, that sounds like a great place to frequent for meals. I’m glad you found a food mamma in your home away from home. 😉

  3. says: Maria

    Wow! That is an awesome all-fruit treat and what a color!
    I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Pa but love that you’ve introduced me, albeit virtually. Something/someone to definitely look forward to.

  4. says: Franca

    We’ve been in Chiang Mai 3 times and never been to this stand.. shame!
    We did have though our favorite market stand we went to for amazing fruit salads and shakes (fruit salad being our favorite). It’s on Soi 6, there is a Thai young lady surrounded by a lot of fruits of any kind. You should try it! 😉

    1. says: Audrey

      That’s too bad that you missed out on the fruit shakes – maybe the fourth time around. I’ll have to go in search of the market you’re talking about. It sounds like there are lots of salads for me to sample. 😉

  5. says: Dani

    We were regulars at Mrs Pa’s fruit shake when we lived in Chiang Mai – her shakes are just so good!! My favorite was strawberry, banana and orange juice. I can’t wait to go back to Chiang Mai and have more of her amazing shakes 🙂

    1. says: Audrey

      I haven’t tried that blend yet but I’ll ask next time she has strawberries. She currently has me hooked on mango-pineapple-passionfruit. 🙂

    1. says: Audrey

      Haha, there’s plenty more reasons to visit – like all the wats and jungle treks – but the smoothies sure are a bonus. 😉

    1. says: Audrey

      Yes, pink dragon fruit! I had previously tried the white variety, so I was surprised to learn that there is in fact such a thing as pink dragon fruit, haha 😉

  6. says: Jodi

    So glad to see that my CNN piece about Mrs. Pa is still timely for those heading to town. She not only makes fabulous smoothies, but she’s so much fun to sit and chat with, as you likely know. My fave remains Strango (strawberry mango) 😉

    Enjoy!

    1. says: Audrey

      It did come in handy, thanks Jodi. I still haven’t tried Strango, but that’ll be the next one I order when she has strawberries. 😉

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