The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wok with Steve

by Steve Gajadhar

No retrospective musings of a trip to Southeast Asia would be complete without mentioning the food. Ah, the food…dang it! now I need to go eat some sweet and sour chicken. Okay, better now. And, aptly enough, that sums the food up. Of all the things we brought back with us (and we did bring back counterfeit versions of almost all consumer items known to man) the food is the one thing that has become a part of us, and the one thing that will remain with us long after the memories pass their expiration date.

Some favorites (in no particular order, unless they were laid out buffet style then I’d start at the top and work toward the dessert items):

Cashew Chicken – who knew browned cashews could be so good?
Sweet and Sour Chicken – ketchup at its finest.
Street Waffles – well, street anything really, but the waffles were ridiculous. Fold em up and jam em down. And they double as sponges for some of the nastier mystery meats that are inevitably mixed in with the other street stuff.
Mango and Rice – and palm sugar…mmm diabetes is only 200 of these away.
Weirdo Cambodian River Fish That I Swear Was Giving Me The Fish Eye – looked nasty yet tasted divine, just don’t linger too long near any of the rivers or you might get an idea where that extra flavor comes from.
Sauces – greatest on Earth, or at least parts of the Earth I’ve eaten at.
Fish Amok – runs amok with your taste buds.
Curry – mild, medium, hot; green, yellow, red. Just put em on my plate.
Milkshakes and Fruit Smoothies – better than anything made by the considerably fatter North American purveyors of ice cream.
Pretty Much Anything Else That Didn’t Involve Chicken Feet, Bugs, Eyeballs, or Innards – you can take the boy out of Canada, but you can’t take the Canadian (Western) food biases out of the boy.

Western food was the one genre that the region couldn’t pull off. Beef is not something I’d recommend either, unless it’s mystery meat. This isn’t a bad thing, but unfortunately I needed to find respite in the club sandwich from time to time and the phrase, “I’d kill for a hamburger,” did leave my lips on more than one occasion. My advice: get some antibiotic anti-you-know-what pills and TAKE them. Take them on the way over. Take them when you get there. Get some more at the store and take those too. Don’t bother waiting till you need them because you will, and by then it’s too late. Trust me on this one.

And near the end of the journey, after all this wonderful food, we topped it off with a cooking class at Baan Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A full day spent learning how simple and elegant Thai cooking is. I could’ve done without the 2hrs of cross-legged vegetable carving, or the mortar and pestled curry paste, but then I’d have missed Thdom, our witty instructor, and the 5 amazing meals that I actually prepared - and still can’t duplicate, but I’ll blame the lack of Thai ingredients - and this photo op:

Now go eat some spring rolls!


Blogger tamara said...

Mmmm. I love thai food! Has visiting Thailand had an affect on your ability to enjoy it here in North America? Or does Hawaii have good Thai options?

Tue May 29, 09:21:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Cute picture. Yummy: bugs, eyeballs, innards.

Tue May 29, 04:45:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Tamara, it sure has. Thai food here is not the same anymore.

Tue May 29, 07:15:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Okay- practice! Cause we're all coming over for dinner soon.

Tue May 29, 07:48:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Great picture, Steve!

Tue May 29, 09:28:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger MelBell said...

Awesome, Steve! Thanks for that!

Thu Jun 07, 09:30:00 am GMT-4  

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