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Sample Recipes from Bangkok Cookbook

Preserved Radish Omelet from Bangkok Cookbook

Photo © David Loftus

I thought I’d alert your attention to the feature on Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand which TASTE has put on their website; it contains two recipes from the book. I’ll link to the page in a minute. I wanted to make a few remarks about these two recipes first.

The piece contains a brief introduction of the book and two recipes: Preserved Radish Omelet with Crispy Basil and Rice Crackers with Pork-Shrimp-Coconut Dip. Both are great representatives of some of the easier dishes in the Book. I recommend you read this post first before continuing to the actual page on TASTE. Not yet having the book and, therefore, the glossary, you’re going to need this information in order to make the featured recipes. Continue Reading →

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The Rice-Curry Shops (Ran Khao Kaeng) of Bangkok: Take Them for What They Are

Bangkok Rice-Curry Shop-SheSimmers.com

It was only five-thirty. But dark. Then I remembered that the sun set early in the winter in this country. Looking across the full parking lot towards a brightly lit building in the distance that was packed with people, I knew if there was a right place to come to, this must have been it.

Moments later, a plastic tray in hands, I found myself in a new world. I’d never seen it in Hollywood movies or American sitcoms let alone experienced it in person. Memories of the random photos I’d seen in my mother’s American cookbooks and the random American food names I remembered from my English classes growing up came back in waves. Believe me when I say I was emotional. Continue Reading →

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Caramel-Glazed Pork Cracklings and Peanuts (กากหมูถั่วหวาน) from Baan Varnakovida (บ้านวรรณโกวิท)

บ้านวรรณโกวิท
Choosing where to eat in Bangkok is never easy; we’re talking about a big and diverse city, teeming with choices. But if forced to identify only one segment where I think the city’s best food is found, I would point to the homes—specifically the homes of old families who cook from recipes passed down for generations. A close second would be restaurants that serve traditional Thai dishes based on family heirloom recipes.

I never understand—or like—the whole unless-it’s-found-on-the-streets-it’s-not-good-or-authentic sentiment, which I’ve noticed from time to time in travel writing or travelers’ comments about Thailand, especially Bangkok. It doesn’t reflect the reality of how Bangkokians actually eat or the way they see their own food. It’s objectively wrong. It minimizes the importance and contribution of the restaurants in the city many of which seek to preserve local traditions and support responsible farming as well as small-scale artisans. It affects me the same way fingernails on a chalkboard do. And I find it just as irritating as the assertion that royal Thai cuisine is the only authentic Thai cuisine.

There’s nothing wrong with being excited about street food or even loving it to the exclusion of others. I, too, love street food. It’s fun; it’s convenient. The streets are where you’ll find lots of things that even the most able and dedicated home cook won’t/can’t make at home. But when that excitement turns into blind, broad-stroke deification of cheap street food and disparagement of more refined establishments, it becomes problematic. Continue Reading →

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