My attempt at Thai cooking

Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
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14
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Trip End Jul 18, 2004


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Tuesday, December 2, 2003

So we're back in Bangkok with only a few scant days to prepare for Myanmar and India. One might think we would be scrambling for last minute supplies, trading in our now useless guide books, and, in general, preparing to leave SE Asia. Well, if you thought that you'd be about half right - that's exactly what Sarah did. I did the less conventional preparation which was to take a Thai cooking class (in other words Sarah took one for the team today while I got stuffed on some great Thai food).

May Kaidee runs a food stall in Banglampu, Bangkok's popular travelers area. Her food ranks among the best we've had on this trip and, much to Sarah's glee, it's all vegetarian. Seriously, Sarah is already thinking of the food I am supposed to be able to cook when we get home! We became hooked on her spicy but sweet "Masaman Curry" the first time we came through Bangkok and we have been back many times since. So with little time left in Thailand and a desire to take a Thai cooking class, I signed up.

I met May this morning to go to the market with her for supplies. As we passed other street food stalls along the way May recieved alot of loud vocal attention which I can't help but think was directed at me, especially since they were smilng and pointing at me. When I asked May what they said she replied that they wanted her to pick up some goods at the market. That was some quick thinking by May, my guess is that they were saying something like: "He's married to that one that never leaves, right?" The laughter between them confimed my guess.

When we reached the market, I saw that it wasn't what you might consider a conventional market, more like vendors selling goods set up along street sidewalks. I was surprised because the very first thing May bought was four live catfish. As we continued shopping May bought huge amounts of vegetables, more than we could carry together and just left them with the vendors we bought them from as we went. All except the fish, which was given to me to be carried. We ducked down an alleyway which seemed to lead to nothing but a canal. May explianed that she was going to give the fish back to the river as part of her belief that if you take something from nature you have give something back. After a short prayer she cast the fish into the canal and we were back to shopping.

I forgot to mention that the second thing May bought was some sugarcane for me to snack on. Having never had sugarcane I wasn't sure of the proper method/etiquette to eat it. I followed May's lead and grabbed a small piece and just went for it. At first it was great, sweet watery liquid squirted out if it, but after a few chews I realized I was just gnawing on a hunk of flavorless fibre. I ddn't see May spit hers out so I kept on chewing hoping it would get better or break apart a little. Finally I gave that up and just swallowed. I had four more pieces (what can I say, the taste was great at first) but that was about all the fibre my body could take for one day.

With a short ride back in a tuk-tuk (since there was no way we could carry all of that food) we were back at the restaurant where there was a wok and propane stove set up for May and I to get started. The cooking was actually simpler than I thought, and with seven dishes down and three to go I was extremely relieved to see Sarah so she could help me eat the last few. Of course once I let it out that I needed help I had many volunteers from the restaurant waiting for dishes to be finished. Believe it or not, no one got sick off my food. Naturally, we didn't stick around to see if that changed, why tempt fate?

If you want to try food at May's or would like to order a cookbook, check out May's website:
www.maykaidee.com
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