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  • hardie karges 1:03 am on February 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Thai food,   

    Northern Thai Food 

    Then there’s the dark side.  Northern Thailand has its own food, most famous of which is probably kaow soi, though more typical would be nam ngieow, a hot murky tomato-based concoction served over khanom jeen or rice noodles, and which people here in Chiang Rai go ape-shit over.  Ditto for gaeng awm, something like lahp that apparently got lost and then rescued a few days later, older but wilder.  They also go ape-shit over som tam, which is shredded unripe papaya salad mixed with peanuts, tomatoes, crab, hot peppers, and only God knows what else.  He still ain’t tellin’. If you’re eating papayas to help promote bowel movements, this’ll get you there in a hurry.  Naturally it’s eaten with sticky rice to help repair the damage.  Does raw papaya sound strange?  Thais also typically eat their mangoes green.  Go figure.  By the time they get ripe, supermarkets are discounting the price and I’m stocking up.  Some varieties are actually quite tasty green, but I can’t help feel they’re missing the boat on this one, ripe mango being one of the finer flavors in the world.  So, if you like green mangoes, hot spicy raw papaya salad, and gut-slashing spicy noodles, then northern Thailand might be just the ticket for you, especially if you like Mexican food already.  Mexicans in LA are some of the best customers for Thai food in the not-so-fancy restaurants. 

  • hardie karges 9:35 am on February 5, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Thai food,   

    More Thai Food 

    Thai food has taken its rightful place as one of the world’s most interesting cuisines, famous for the subtle blend of flavors to be found in its sweet and sour and spicy soups and creamy coconut-milk curries, such as tom yam goong, gaeng kieow wahn, gaeng mussaman, and tom kha gai.  The reality ‘in country’, of course, is a bit different.  First of all, the Thai food in overseas restaurants is from the central and southern regions predominantly.  Except for lahp, which is starting to be found more in the US, almost no dishes come from the north or northeast, which are more influenced by Burma and Laos, respectively, than the Malaysian-inspired dishes of the south.  Second, some popular dishes in US restaurants, like pat thai and kaow pat, are street food in Thailand, and quite different from the stylized US restaurant versions.  The curries and soups, on the other hand, might be difficult to find in street stalls in Thailand and spring rolls next to impossible.  That’s Vietnam.  Probably the single most popular street food in Thailand, though, noodle soup, also originally from Vietnam, would be hard to find in a US-based Thai restaurant. 

  • hardie karges 2:12 am on February 4, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Thai food,   

    Sticky Rice 

    Somebody needs to clear the air on the subject of ‘sticky rice’.  Some people talk about it and pay tribute without real knowledge of what it really is.  Sticky rice is not rice that somebody came along and decided to make sticky for reasons of good taste, nor for reasons of tasting good.  Sticky rice is a different breed; ‘glutinous’ rice is probably a better word.  It has more protein and is a favorite of village people (no, not THOSE village people) in Southeast Asia, particularly Thais and Tais and Dais (yes, related).  The brown sticky stuff can even be had in Laos.  It goes good with opium, unless you’ve got constipation.  Kidding aside, actually it goes good with hot raunchy stuff like lahp or somtam, since the diarrheic tendencies of those delicacies tend to balance out the constipatory tendencies of sticky rice.  Eat it with your hands.  You are what you eat, remember.  Of course city people don’t condescend to nibble rice-balls dunked in chili paste.  They only eat the finest ‘pretty’ ‘sweet-smelling’ ‘jasmine’ rice, stripped of every last vitamin and amino acid until fit for the mouth of Manu.  What indeed hath God wrought?  Of course, sticky rice can be further ‘stickified’ by cooking in coconut milk and served with mango as a dessert.  Now you can melt the hearts and minds of the most hardened city-dweller with this tasty dish.  But you better stock up on laxative or lahp, because this is triple constipation.  I ate this dish once a day for a week about ten years ago, and haven’t had a good shit since.

  • hardie karges 2:54 am on February 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Thai food,   

    Thai Food 

    Thailand is all about entertainment, fun fun fun, and more than anything else, that means food, both within country and without.  Hardly a word gets spoken or a song gets sung in Thailand without the obligatory munchies to accompany it.  Thais make Italians look like dilettantes around a table.  The first Thai restaurant opened its doors in LA in the early 1980’s, and the rest is history.  Thais may be a little slow off the starting block, but they’re experts at emulating a successful formula.  The Thai word for ‘recipe’ in fact is the same as for a course of study, derived from the Sanskrit word ‘sutra’.  Thai food is some of the best in the world, but deviate from a recipe and you can hear grumbling around the table.  It became what it is by incorporating the local dishes from the areas they populated and conquered, and the influences absorbed and incorporated.  Thus Malaysian curries became Thai curries, though that fact would likely never be acknowledged in polite company.  ‘Thai-ness’ is a very dearly held concept, sacrosanct and inviolable.  Nevertheless, these dishes are largely unknown in non-Siamese, though very ‘Tai’, Laos, Shan state Burma, Xishuangbanna China, and northwestern Vietnam, and the process has become extinct and the results standardized, in Thailand itself.  To me the best cooks would create spontaneous masterpieces with no recipe at all.  The first food to have been cooked anywhere in the world may well have occurred in what is now Guangdong, China, likely the ancestral home of the Thai.

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