Generation gap

filet

The filet mignon at Today Steak

(All photos by Dwight Turner)

There is something that happens when you’re seated at a table and a plate of food is set in front of you. There is no longer any need to think; there is only the basic, animal act of getting that food into your mouth in a way that will settle the stomach that’s telling you it’s been ignored. After a few bites in, after your brain truly gives you the green light to dig in and you really start hitting your stride, the euphoria of finally getting what you want starts to settle in. All is suddenly right with the world, your mind instead focused on this element with that sauce, or maybe that vegetable with this protein, the task of cleaning the plate the only one looming in your immediate horizon. When that world, your plate, is gone, so is your high. And that’s when you ask your dining companion, “What should we have next?”

This is something that happens, even if, as I was, you are somewhere patronized mainly by university students. Let me tell you, I typically avoid places that host a lot of university students as a rule. The reason is simple: they are young and their main motivation is value for money. They are young enough to think they have a lifetime of meals ahead of them, calories and grease and deep-fried breading be damned. So when Dwight (@bkkfatty) told me about a specific niche of restaurant that championed “steak” for student budgets, I was intrigued and made him take me to the Sam Yarn market, where Today Steak (or Steak Today, we can never be sure) resides on the second floor.

Thais have always been good at taking foreign influences and twisting them into something that is unique and probably unrecognizable to their creators. These budget steakhouses — and they are a specific niche, perhaps most famously represented by Chokchai Steakhouse — fall roughly into a similar category to the mid-century “luxury Western” restaurants like Silom Pattakarn and Agave that serve Chinese-Thai takes on Western dishes such as beef stew and Anglicized chicken curry. These steakhouses are, if not exactly parodies, then idealized versions of their American counterparts, serving food that is actually affordable and tailor-made to young Thai tastes.

dinner

My “pork godfather”, even though I asked twice for beef

At Today Steak, we took seats in an air-conditioned room dominated by what was clearly a Chulalongkorn University student meeting of some sort. A bridge actually connects the second floor of the market to the campus, making it basically another canteen of the university. I envied these students with their lives ahead of them, thinking that there were good things to come. Because you see, I had already seen the menu.

The basic philosophy of these types of restaurants are that there is nothing that a slab of processed cheese, bacon or red sauce cannot fix. There is no dish in which one of these elements is not present, unless you give up completely and order the Thai food (and then, why are you here?) The prices never veer over 200 baht, even if you order a T-bone steak (160 baht). But again, why chicken out and order the T-bone steak, if you are here? You came here to play, did you not?

And, even if you do try to order beef, there is a very good chance you will not get it. I twice tried to order the “beef godfather” for 150 baht (OK, I liked the name), only to receive a breaded pork cutlet garlanded with a salad tossed in mayonnaise and peas, cold white bread touched with margarine and the kind of ketchup-y Thai spaghetti that makes you realize why Pan Pan became such a culinary sensation in the 1980s.

table

Me, thrilled to be so close to a big bottle of mayonnaise

Dwight ordered the “filet mignon” (120 baht), which we assumed would be a beef ribeye. Smothered in a red sauce and slices of flabby bacon, it looked a lot more like well-seasoned pork. Does this explain the price tag? In any case, the fries were as good as Dwight promised they would be.

But authenticity is not the point. It’s never the point here, unless it’s Thai food. The point is that this food is the stuff of someone’s childhood. This is the Thai equivalent of that alarming “salad” of lime jello, pineapple and nuts that your grandma keeps busting out on Thanksgiving. Tuna casserole with lots of canned cream of mushroom soup and potato chips crumbled on top. Sweet potatoes crowned with cherry pie topping and mini-marshmallows. Let’s not pretend this is grosser than anything else we’ve seen.

At the end of the evening, though, we showed our age. We finished our meal at Nai Peng Kua Gai and finally considered ourselves fed. As I write this now, I am planning on chasing my next high with a big plate of pad se ew.

kuagai

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Glutton Abroad: Burmese days

feel

Lunch at Feel in Yangon

There is something wrong with being on a diet while on holiday. Not only is it perverse — you are supposed to be on holiday — but it could quite possibly be immoral. Yes, immoral, or maybe just narrow-minded, or, at the very least, criminally incurious. You are in a new country, not your home, shutting yourself off from sampling the very best that country has to offer. Yes, there are sights to be seen and money to be spent buying souvenirs for people who will throw these souvenirs away after you have left. But closing off the very best part of you, making it subject to rules that curtail the full enjoyment of a country’s cuisine — making that stomach, in effect, work while on holiday — that’s just wrong. That is no way to travel.

This is what I’m telling myself, anyway. That diets are immoral while on holiday in Yangon. Because it would be criminally unfair to Myanmar. And I want to give Myanmar’s cuisine every chance, as many chances as a good-looking white guy in the entertainment industry could possibly hope for. Taylor Kitsch- and Justin Bieber-level chances. That’s how generous I want to be to Myanmar. Because I suspect that food may be getting a bad rap.

Patrick, who lives in Yangon, had been telling me I should try out the food in Myanmar for a while, and I agreed that I should, in the way that one agrees they should go to the dentist, or finally get around to listening to that new Eminem album. Which is to mean, it would probably never happen. But one night (in Bangkok), Patrick told me something that was so simple that it blew my mind: Myanmar food is delicious to the Myanmar people. Just as Thai food is delicious to the Thais — something that Thai people don’t really consider, because they think whatever Thai people like must be liked everywhere else too. In Thailand: balanced flavors, different textures, good aroma=good. In the US: rich, creamy, salty, sweet. What is good in one country is not necessarily good in the other. What are the culinary values in Myanmar?

Denigrated as oily and salty by Thai people, Myanmar’s food operates along a wholly different set of values: heavy even when it’s light; highly flavored; filling. It’s food that asks to be remembered, well after the meal. All dishes — even the salads — adhere to this rule. The one time I went to Yangon in 2006, the only meal I honestly remember was Chinese-style hotpot. Who would I be if I didn’t want to try real Myanmar cuisine?

kanom

Streetside sweets in Yangon, reminiscent of Thai kanom tua pap

Perhaps the most famous purveyor of Burmese cooking is Feel, an unassuming cafe on a nondescript street in what I’m told is the expatty part of the city. Once inside, customers are expected to grab the first seat that comes available and then somehow navigate their way through a vast curry buffet amidst a crowd of equally-hungry Burmese customers. Happily, Patrick takes charge, ordering a delicious beef curry, a sweet-and-sour fish, a chili dip strongly resembling Northern Thai nam prik ong, and a tart, crunchy pennywort salad that still coats the tongue even after it’s gone (“Heavy even when it’s light,” Patrick says). There’s even a clear refreshing soup that tastes of pickled bitter gourd. Even after all that, Patrick eventually gives in and orders the tea leaf salad — arguably Myanmar’s most famous dish and a mishmash of textures and pungent, bottom-heavy flavors that never skew acid. “Real tea leaf salads are never sour,” Patrick says. Everything is delicious, even if it’s different from what Thais would say is good.

tealeaf

Feel’s tea leaf salad, with the necessary garnishes

Later, in Bagan, we get a different view of Myanmar food at an outdoor vendor set up in the shadow of one of the temple’s parking lots. When we ask one of the guards if he knew of a good place to eat lunch, we are totally unprepared for him to ask his friend to take over his post, and wait with us(!) while my notoriously snail-like daughter slowly makes her way through the temple. He takes us through the parking lot to the far side of the bric-a-brac vendors, and we entertain thoughts of him killing us only once. Finally, he leads us to a vendor set up behind a makeshift stove and set under a blue tarp, orders for us, and sits with us while we take our first bites. What they served: a clear, oily (but not unpleasantly so) spicy soup with pork; a salty-spicy salad of acacia leaves and minced meat; stir-fried snake gourd with eggs, and honking big fluffy omelets piled on top of rice bulked up with beans. This type of hospitality was not uncommon during our trip to Myanmar. It got to the point where we hesitated to ask for the bathroom, for fear someone would end up driving us to their home.

streetfood

A streetside lunchtime feast

It was an important lesson about Myanmar, its people and its culture, and one that may not have been learned, had I been on a diet.

snack

Starchy streetside snack at the market in Yangon

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Glutton Abroad: Polynesian dreamin

tree

Tahitian Christmas tree at the local Carrefour

Manava Suite Resort may have dangerous electrical wiring and some truly alarming breakfast sausages, but one of the good things about it — besides its near-constant UB40 soundtrack — is its location. On the western side of Tahiti, considered preferable to the storm-battered east, Manava (or “welcome” in Tahitian) is a short 3-5-minute walk away from a smattering if open-air streetside eateries that open up after the sun goes down (6:30pm, give or take a few minutes).

The menu is what you might expect when the food comes out of a truck or a roadside grill: sometimes pizza, sometimes Chinese, even Thai. But the preponderance of the menus feature lovely grilled things, almost always plopped unceremoniously atop a crisp bed of perfect, McDonald’s-like fries. There’s chicken of course, because where would we be without chicken, and juicy, meaty fresh-off-the-grill steak. Sometimes pork ribs, and chewy, toothsome chunks of veal heart on a skewer, nudging a vast wedge of macaroni-and-cheese, because God is good in Tahiti. I love this food in its simplicity and its emphasis on pure comfort and hospitality.

beefheart

Freshly grilled steak and beef heart skewer

Believe it or not, this was not my first time in Tahiti. I’ve been before. Reading back on what I thought of it then, I can barely recognize myself. It’s especially bewildering since this was the first trip I took with the first four books of George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire”, discovering for the first time Cersei and Ned and Jon and Dany against a backdrop of impossibly blue sea and a shooting star-filled sky. The only reason I can come up with for all the past doom and gloom was that I might have been annoyed with a traveling companion or two. This time, armed with a far inferior set of books, I found I didn’t really need them. The food and company were great, although I can’t really speak for my nephew Remy:

remy

The expression I get after someone complains about “Feast for Crows” and “Dance with Dragons”

 

There’s a whole bunch of roadside places once you turn right out of the resort, but the best one may be one of the closest: Temaiti West Side (+87-720-620), instantly recognizable for the hulking grill set up next to a brightly lit cart and the collection of almost-always-full tables behind it in an ill-lit parking lot. My son was truly afraid to sit down for dinner, but got over it after our meal arrived, which was chicken and fries and more fries, with I think a salad that I’ve forgotten all about because the chicken.

chicken

Straight off the grill onto the plate

And this time, I found I didn’t have a problem with the simplicity of poisson cru. OK, these islands were colonized by the French, but they didn’t take on their anal-retentive cooking techniques and persnickety dining habits. It’s damn hot! Ain’t nobody got time for that! (Except for Thai people, because we are nuts and obsessed with what other people think about us).

fish

“Chinese-style” poisson cru at Restaurant Menere

poissoncru

“Traditional” poisson cru (do we see the difference here?) at Manava

Or maybe the South Pacific is an ideal destination for a different me, one who is too hot and ain’t got no time for extraneous stuff. If there is a New Year’s resolution to be found somewhere in there, teased out of the roadside Papeete underbrush after a filling meal of steak and fries and someone else’s pizza, that may be it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My year in food

usa

My son’s map of the USA

I’ll be honest. 2017 didn’t start off that great. I didn’t think it would be that memorable of a year in food for me, especially since I was only interested in making a handful of comfort food recipes. Some of my favorites:

Number one comfort food dinner:

– 5 glasses of red wine

Comfort afternoon snack:

– 2 glasses of red wine

Don Draper nightcap:

– 2 glasses of red wine

– 1 shot single-malt whisky, neat

But, like every 2016 presidential election prognosticator, I was wrong. 2017 was a great year in food. But don’t take it from me, the person who accidentally burned a plastic spatula while trying to cook lamb meatballs because she was busy reading a story about Al Franken and still ate the meatballs even though they were uncooked in the middle and may have had melted plastic on them.  Take it from the Michelin people, who came to Thailand (Wonder why? Doesn’t matter) to anoint 17 lucky happy eating places with their coveted stars, and the just-as-important bib gourmand to a bunch of other people at 33 happy eating spots.  Dreams do come true, you guys.

jayfai

The recipient of one Michelin star (it’s Jay Fai)

robuchon

Caviar terrine at the recipient of another (it’s L’atelier de Joel Robuchon)

Of course, Thais being Thais, there is already plenty of grumbling about who got what and why. For once in my life, I am not going to add to that chorus. Congrats you guys! Good for you! Please continue allowing me to eat in your restaurants! Thank you.

paste

Poached black cod at now-Michelin-starred Paste

gaggan

The emoji menu at two-Michelin-starred Gaggan

thipsamai

Police confused at the gargantuan line at now-Bib-Gourmanded Thipsamai

And of course I’m waving the flag for all the bib gourmand recipients, including Soul Food Mahanakorn (those guys once said hi to me) and the taciturn guay jab guy in the porn theater in Chinatown (he never says hi to me and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there). Because I’ve eaten at most of these places, I feel a sense of ownership, just like if I was a member of the Michelin team myself. Of course, I was not. Just FYI, I’m free next year, you guys. I could make some room in my schedule for you.

I gotta say, even though no one asked me, the Michelin folks have included a pretty judicious selection of street food spots. Do you think this will change the current government attitude to street food vendors? And, just an observation but I cannot help but ask: who chooses the photos that go with these restaurants? Is there a stock photo factory of rando table settings in France somewhere? Because that is definitely not Soul Food, Sanguansri or for God’s sake Jay Oh with the white tablecloths lol. Someone who looks at this might get ideas.

sritrat

Spicy fried sausage at Sri Trat, one of 76 “The Plate Michelin” recipients

But I have had meals this year that have not been at eateries lauded in the Michelin guide. Here, my own guide to the past year’s good eats:

pumpkinshoots

Fresh green pumpkin shoots stir-fried with garlic at Niyom Pochana

khonkaen

A plate of som tum at Krua Khun Ton in Korat

raya

A plate of shrimp paste chili dip (with sour curry with bamboo shoots in the background) at Raya in Phuket

bamee38

Khun Sumet, carrying on with Bamee 38 in Charm Phrakiet

I am, for once, looking forward to what the next year will bring. I hope that doesn’t mean it will be a crap year!

Happy New Year, all! Thank you for sticking around.

teppen

Thank you and farewell at Teppen

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Something for everyone

bowl

Hainanese rice vermicelli at Jay Wa-Jay Yong

My friend Winner describes himself as “super Chinese”, even though he grew up in California and cheers on terrible American football teams. It’s not the kind of Chinese that my husband is, where they all hang out in Chinatown and burn stuff in the front yard once a year. According to Winner, “super Chinese” means having parents who were forced to go to Chinese school and meeting up at community centers and temples to describe your particular brand of Chinese-ness — in his case, Hainan, which Thais refer to as “Hailum”.

The majority of Thais with Chinese heritage are Teochew, or Chiu Chow. That means a healthy smattering of Teochew restaurants throughout Bangkok, keeping the bak ku teh and oyster omelet faith. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a healthy slice of eateries out there that aren’t Hainanese. After all, one of the most well-known street food dishes in the country is probably Hainanese chicken rice (khao mun gai), the one-two punch of fork-tender chicken and fatty globules of slick white rice (and clear soup and, let’s face it, the chili-speckled sauce). That’s just one of the dishes that this southernmost Chinese province has to offer. There’s also kanom jeen hailum, or Hainanese rice vermicelli.

kanomjeen

Winner, stopping mid-inhale on a bowl of noodles

One of my favorite things about Thai street food — if not my absolute favorite thing — is the range of dishes available, snatched and twisted into Thai-style shapes from cultures all over the globe. Unlike its chicken rice counterpart, Hainanese rice noodles are one of those dishes that are increasingly hard to find, in spite of itself: a seemingly bewitching mix of thick udon-like strands cosseted in a thickened broth punctuated with shrimp paste, peanuts, sesame seeds, pickled greens and of course coriander and green onion, left to stew into an amiable sludge. And there are the slices of pork too.

There are several places to have this dish, including the pretty obviously-named Kanom Jeen Hai Lum (Charoen Nakorn Road between Sois 17 and 19), which also serves chicken rice, because of course. But another place that places almost all its eggs in the kanom jeen basket is Jay Wa-Jay Yong (463/54-55 Luk Luang Soi 8, open 5-11pm), where the distinctive green bowl of Shell Chuan Chim (Thailand’s answer to the Michelin guide) adorns the shophouse.

sauce

Shrimp paste dipping sauce

For my money though (even though Winner paid), the best thing at this shophouse is the yum Hailum, or Hainanese spicy salad, cleverly made up of all the things that would garnish a bowl of noodles, but dressed up in the Thai chili-lime-fish sauce dressing that renders everything it touches delicious. A mix of pork slices, moo yaw (steamed pork pate), Chinese mushrooms, lettuce, pickled greens and sesame seeds, this salad has it all: texture, taste, and punch, a dish that can only be found at this dinner spot (so Winner says). They gave me a separate plate so that I could share, but of course there was no need.

yum

Jay Wa-Jay Yong’s yum Hailum

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Security blanket food

khaosoy

Beef shin khao soy, my favorite kind

Guess what? There’s a lot of bad mojo in the news today. Maybe you haven’t heard, because you are off being happy and hanging out with Diana Ross. Maybe you have been traveling and are spending your days with a good book. Or maybe you are medicated to the gills, like me. In any case, even I am aware that bad stuff has been happening, including bad inappropriate behavior guy stuff (I’m not talking about Donald Trump, although, wait, maybe I am).

Women grow up knowing to look out for those guys, the handsy ones who treat your personal space like a salad bar at Sizzler. They do this because they can. It’s always our fault, and we’re always the ones left feeling ashamed. But I’m not here to tell the same old story about the perv on the crowded Tokyo subway car, or the totally inappropriate weirdo at your friend’s wedding. I feel like the tide may be turning, and that people are learning to appreciate — or at least fear — what women have to contribute and say. Fingers crossed.

This extends to food. Still, even here in Thailand where the myth of the magical mortar-and-pestle-wielding grandma reigns supreme (the culinary Asian version of Will Smith in “The Legend of Bagger Vance”), woman food remains mom food, stuff that you eat in a pinch or that you miss when you’ve moved on to bigger and better things.

At the same time, much of the Thai food landscape is populated by strong women cooks, people like Jay Fai and Bo Songvisava and Bee Satongun and Krua Apsorn. Women make up nearly half of the Thai workforce. Thailand ranks first in the number of women CEOs at private companies. Yet every time you step outside there are still commercials about the need for women to slim down, bleach their skin, beware how they smell. My mother still complains about how her friends tell her I look like I was pulled out of a dumpster (“pulled from the dumpster” is my look right now a la Alison Mosshart OK mom?!). These parallel existences shouldn’t be, but they are.

No wonder, then, that a discerning woman would choose to eat their feelings, the security blanket of choice for the bon vivant. That is how I found myself at Kruajiangmai (Thonglor Rd., 099-196-2464) instead of the street food noodle place I initially intended to visit, wearing my most comfy elastic waist pants and a pristine white shirt just begging to be splattered with lunch. Kruajiangmai, which started out as a pure delivery service, just happens to be helmed by another cooking woman, Chinnanan Sethachanan, who cooks good Northern Thai food even though she’s from Chiang Mai (my dad says Chiang Mai food is the blandest in the north OK reader?!)

stew

Nam ngiew in the pot, with actual dok ngiew

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you will probably know that I am extra picky about Northern Thai food, because my dad has cooked it for us all our lives. You might have also noticed I was super judgy about places with laminated menus promising pad Thai and mango sticky rice but I’ve matured since then (OK mom?!) and realize that people have to do what they can to survive. Kruajiangmai not only has the temerity to be from Chiang Mai, but also does this laminated menu thing, and yet I still did not run away. Maybe I was super hungry (I ordered both beef shin khao soy and kanom jeen nam ngiew). But the food itself was promising: the nam ngiew, spicy and cartilaginous and uncluttered with the desiccated corpses of cherry tomatoes that tend to dilute the stew.

namngiew

Most importantly? There were actual dried ngiew blossoms in the broth, as well as the correct garnishes like deep-fried garlic, bean sprouts and pickled greens, because when you see stuff like green beans and carrots you (I) want to jump out a window. The same could be said for the khao soy with beef shank, which was not only tender and rich but also included the deep-fried egg noodles for texture and plenty of raw onions, because it’s not a good lunch until everyone within a 3-foot radius wishes they were dead.

I ended up leaving with a bag of khao ganjin (Shan-style rice cooked in pork blood) and gaeng ped hed prao (exploding mushroom curry) on my arm, splattered Jackson Pollock-style with enough khao soy curry and nam ngiew juice that I looked pulled from a dumpster next to the Ping River. I didn’t see any of my mom’s friends on the way home. Comfort food indeed.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Glutton Abroad: NZ life

cafe

Typical NZ: Free protection from the rays

I’ve been away from home for a while, and so have been busy the last few days gorging myself on all the stuff I didn’t expect to miss in Thailand but did: grilled chicken smothered in a mountain of fried garlic, searingly hot shredded bamboo shoot salad, steamed seafood custard, perfectly stir-fried pumpkin shoots, even proper sticky rice. But now, of course, I find myself thinking more about what I left behind over there, like gorgeously juicy oysters, breezy beachside walks and appropriately-priced booze. Them’s the breaks I guess.

I learn more about New Zealand every time I visit. Stuff I didn’t notice before, like how meat pies are to Kiwis what hamburgers are to Americans. They are the staple food, ruefully described as junk but irresistible all the same.

pie

Steak and cheese pie breakfast by the highway. I somehow survived this.

I knew about the penchant for bare feet everywhere you go, but not the obsession with fries on a menu, even at Chinese takeaway and American barbecue spots. We all knew about the sheep, but not the inexplicably overwhelming popularity of Jason Derulo. And then there is the — what I see as new — interest in local produce, presented in novel, thought-provoking ways using ingredients like surf clam, seaweed, manuka honey and mutton bird. Of course, I’m talking about Pasture.

pasture.JPG

Pasture’s wild onion chawanmushi

Imagine a place where — yes — they make their own bread and butter and the menu changes regularly (standard Brooklyn hipster moves), but also features pairings of “juices” like fermented white asparagus alongside wine and declares its fondness for acidity over sweetness on the menu like a mission statement, or a warning. That is not to say that everything works, because, like in any place that tries something new, there are hits and misses. But it comes across as sincere, instead of as a cynical exercise in justifying an inflated price tag by providing an “experience” that makes the flavor of the food a secondary concern.

cocktails

The cocktail menu

The Asian food scene is still something I am unpacking. Malaysian restaurants are abundant, packed, and good, and a whole range of Chinese food from Sichuan to Shanghainese to Cantonese is available. Thai food is different, somehow, and can either be characterized as a casualty of its own global successes (pad thai, sweet green curry) or as an entity that has moved beyond “thing” into the realm of “concept” — big enough to be subject to interpretation like the Mona Lisa, or what George really meant by “Song of Ice and Fire” (I don’t think it’s Jon marries Daenerys and they live happily ever after OK?).

Like any true and patriotic Thai, I was annoyed by terrible Thai food that curdled the spirit of the culture and turned the generosity of cooking into flat-out scams (see: my trip to a NY Thai restaurant). I understood the impulse to create a neutral arbiter, a superhero who could prosecute every culinary crime, like an official food robot. But what the Chinese, and Japanese, and Italians (and everyone else who has achieved worldwide food stardom) understands is that making things the way you think they should be is a pipe dream. Actually, that is probably a hard lesson to learn for everybody, not just food people.

dumplings

Potstickers at Barilla Dumpling, where I fell down the stairs

When I worked at a news agency that I will hereby refer to as “Root Canal”, management frequently talked about how “fresh eyes” were needed to see things in our culture that we had grown used to, people like Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan (we can discuss how often “fresh eyes” ended up being white guys later). Through them, we could see new things about ourselves, even if they didn’t know as much as we did about the local nuances.

So why does that go out the window when it comes to food? This is the question I’m still asking after visiting Kiss Kiss , a Northern Thai-leaning restaurant that only just recently opened in Auckland.

kisskiss

Pork ribs and jaew

The first thing you notice is that it’s super cute. There’s no BS about trying to make this place look “authentic”, or that Thai people have ever really set food inside. The colors are bright-bright, like a Wachowski movie. The cocktail menu is viewed via Viewmaster. The soundtrack veers between cool Western obscure stuff and cool Thai obscure stuff.

The next thing you’ll notice is that it’s packed. New Zealanders love this place. It is full of the sort of young New Zealander you would expect to find in magazines like i-D and Paper. When you talk about it with other people, they will invariably say it is delicious.

I only point these things out because it wasn’t to my taste. I found it sweet and bland, and some dishes were full-on bad ideas, like the “naem” rice salad topped with shredded sai oua and fried sticky rice balls that looked like a way to utilize pesky leftovers. I admit I did not have the guts to order som tum. It wasn’t Thai food that Thai people would eat.

But is that the point? Is it bad if it’s an homage, done by people who loved something enough to be inspired by it, who then tweaked it to their own tastes? Like David McCallum’s “The Edge” versus Dre and Snoop’s “The Next Episode”? And what if people like the new thing better? What about it if I like the remade “Evil Dead” versus the Sam Raimi original, where Bruce Campbell makes too many stupid faces and is useless? (I realize this is horror fan heresy). There is a world different from us, a world where people might actually prefer a cappella versions of songs to the clearly superior originals. Shall we blame them? Or just accept that people have different tastes? And see their “remakes” as tributes to the original? (I realize this is Thai food lover heresy).

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized