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My Book – Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen

Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu
Remember when the Zealous Water Buffalo told you many months ago that I was writing a book? Well, it’s done. Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen won’t be available until around mid-May, but if you preorder it now, you will be among the first people to get it.

That’s not all, if you preorder the book now, you will be given access to a video tutorial on how to make red curry from scratch, from the homemade paste to the finished dish. I do not intend on making this video public on the blog or elsewhere, at least within the next year or so. So it will be available immediately to only the early birds among you and no one else. So, please be sure to keep the email confirmation from your bookseller of choice (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, iBooks, and Google Books) when you preorder.

You have until Thai New Year (April 13) to do so which is when I will tell you how to redeem your gift.

But first, let me tell you a bit about the book so you know what you’re investing in. In keeping with the theme of simplicity, I will sum up this book into one sentence. Continue Reading →

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Khao Phra Ram Long Song “Swimming Rama” (ข้าวพระรามลงสรง) – Part One (Ramayana)


I have more to say about Khao Phra Ram Long Song (ข้าวพระรามลงสรง), nicknamed “Swimming Rama,” one of the most popular dishes on the menus of Thai restaurants in the United States but something nowhere near as frequently seen or consumed in Bangkok, its birthplace.

For now, in order to get ready for what’s to come, those who are not familiar with the Indian epic, the Ramayana, may want to at least skim its Wiki entry. You don’t need to know anything about the Ramayana to make this dish properly, of course, but if you’re at all interested in the origin of the name of this dish and how it’s related to this piece of Indian literature, I hope this little cultural tour I’m taking you on will prove interesting.

A recipe will soon follow.

In the meantime, let me distract you with a little bit of entertainment. If you wish to study the Ramayana in a serious, scholarly manner, this is probably not what you want (instead, go here for links to all six kandas of the whole thing). But for a fun, modern, artistic take on an ancient piece of literature, here’s a musical animation, loosely based on the events directly pertaining to Sita who is one of the main characters in the Ramayana, by animator Nina Paley. You can find out more about Paley and the story behind this film, her personal interpretation of the Ramayana, on her official website. (Thank you @uncle_vinny for telling me about this film!)

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Shrimp Paste Relish with Lime Rind (น้ำพริกผิวมะนาว) and a Little Ghost Tale

Thai Shrimp Paste Chili Relish
What criteria do you use to gauge how much you understand another culture? How do you rank these criteria in terms of their importance? How objective is your ranking and what are the factors influencing it? What characteristics must someone from a different culture exhibit – what knowledge must they possess for you to consider them well-assimilated or at least well-versed in your culture? What are the things you need to do or say or prove in order to assure someone that you really understand their culture and vice versa? What criteria do you think someone else from a culture different from yours may use to measure your understanding of their culture? I often wonder about these things. Continue Reading →

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