Austin Bush and Christopher Wise, founders of interactive food map and website Fantastic Food Search (FFS), are back with a new project that aims to bring you closer to the food cultures of Southeast Asia.
Online shop Outstanding Market Goods, aka OMG, is their “version of the local wet market.” On the website, you’ll find hand-crafted products like indigo-dyed farmers’ shirts and larb knives from Phrae, as well as goods designed by Bush and Wise, like aprons hand-dyed with real indigo.
With each product, you’ll also get background information about the village or region where it’s made, or the people who created it: how Ban Rong Fong once made the chains, metal shoes, and other tack for elephants laboring in the teak trade, or how Mohom Ban PaLuang, a second-generation indigo dyer in Phrae, is one of the few producers still using natural indigo for his goods.
“Originally, we envisioned Fantastic Food Search (FFS) to point travelers in the direction of unique, local stuff to eat in the region, then the pandemic happened,” the two explained. “We noticed that people were doing a lot of cooking from home and wanted to travel vicariously, so we had the idea to sell cooking- and kitchen-related products. Both are efforts to connect users or shoppers with something that matches our outlook—Food With A Sense of Place, Stuff With A Sense of Place.”
The two collectively have several decades of experience tracking down recipes, ingredients, and cooking goods from across Southeast Asia—and beyond—for their work.
Bush has written for outlets like Saveur, Taste, and CNN Travel, often about regional food culture; worked on Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok cookbooks; and authored The Food of Northern Thailand. He now has another book in the works centered on southern Thai food. Wise, a co-founder of Bangkok bar-gallery WTF, has shot photographs for magazines like Australian Gourmet Traveller, Conde Nast Traveler, Monocle, and Travel+Leisure.
Everything available on OMG is sourced from or made by local providers, who in some cases work seasonally, so products are limited and only available for pre-order.
Currently, the two are designing batik napkins from Yala in southern Thailand and transforming the indigo-dyed farmers’ shirt into a light jacket. In the (hopefully) near future, they plan to expand their online marketplace to include items from other regions, villages, and countries.
Visit the website or check out FFS on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more details.
All images courtesy of OMG / FFS via Facebook