thailand

Rice is Life

Rice is Life

Before coming here, I was aware of rice as a part of a Thai meal.  In New York, I would usually order a side of rice to go with my giant bowl of massaman curry.  Paige and I were sitting down having a coffee near our apartment in Chiang Mai, when I noticed a young Thai woman passing by.  She was carrying a tote bag with the perfect slogan printed on it.  It said: "RICE IS LIFE”.   

Read More

Shade Market Cooking: Condiments Part 1

Shade Market Cooking: Condiments Part 1

When I sit down at a restaurant, whether it's fine dining or a diner, I want a bottle of hot sauce close to me.  In Thailand, they feel my struggle.  Places that serve great food and those that serve up mediocrity will almost always have condiments set at each table. It is actually a sign of a quality restaurant if their table side seasonings look fresh and abundant.  Our favorite spot for Khao Ka Muu, braised pork shank over rice, is a great example. The traditional garnishes of raw whole chiles, raw whole garlic cloves and scallions are usually crisp and unblemished.  The same can't be said for their competition.

Read More

Shade Market Cooking: Fresh Tofu

Shade Market Cooking: Fresh Tofu

For years I completely ignored tofu.  It just never excited me.  In my eyes, it was white-ish, bland soy mush.  How ignorant of me!  But, in all fairness, we are not taught to appreciate tofu in the States.  As we mention in our post on soy milk, the mass produced "tofu" that's common in the United States is not real tofu.  It's just soy protein concentrate pressed into a cake.  Real tofu is a whole soy product, including most of the fiber and healthy fats in the soy bean.  Real tofu isn't bland.  It has a slightly sour flavor from the vinegar used to curdle the soy milk.  Real tofu has a vegetal taste from the skin of the legume.  It has a toothsome quality akin to queso fresco or haloumi.  Tofu's porous nature allows it to soak up sauces and flavorful oils. I will continue to ignore the mass produced soy-food that is found in supermarkets, instead opting for fresh tofu at asian markets.  Or, better yet, home-made tofu.

Read More

Self-Reliance in Thailand

Self-Reliance in Thailand

When I think of the "American Dream", I think of George and Lenny huddled next to a campfire making grand plans.  The idea of being able to "live off the fat of the land" is as American as cold beer and barbecue.  It's fulfillment, however, is far less common.  In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck was writing of an "American Dream" that is all but dead.  Like George and Lenny, most farmers never experience the ideal of being self reliant.  Ironically, it is here in Thailand, at PunPun Center for Self Reliance, that I see the actualization of an American Dream.

Read More