Only the young

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Kai kata at Srinakharinwirot University Market

I am supposed to be working right now, so of course I am Googling Kanye West albums and figuring out my own ranking of his top three. I am doing this because I have just read of the Kanye West-based matchmaking service, Yeezy Dating, launched by a kid named Harry Dry who (allegedly) believes that “Life of Pablo” is Kanye West’s best album. This is clearly, horribly, terribly wrong. Obviously the ranking goes: 3. “Graduation”, 2. “808s and Heartbreak”, and 1. “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. OBVIOUSLY. What is wrong with kids today?

The thing that I have discovered about my bewilderment when confronted with modern music tastes is that I am offended by my own bewilderment. I am offended because this bewilderment makes me feel old. Like, okay, I am repeating myself like an old lady who tells the same story over and over again, but Drake sings like he’s got a clay mask on and it’s rapidly drying but he keeps trying to sing his way through it. And I cannot emphasize the confusion I felt when, while watching a rerun of the “Ellen Degeneres Show” (I know I’m old), I caught a Travis Scott performance and then spent all day listening to his music to confirm 100 percent that I absolutely hated all of it. I don’t understand this stuff, like how cavemen feel about lightning and fire.

Other things that make me feel old:

  • People who are fans of Harry Styles
  • People who know who Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert are and can tell the difference between them
  • People who can tell the difference between BTS and EXO
  • Having to take digestive enzymes if I’m having dinner after 9pm
  • People who can fit into jeans for sale on the sidewalk in Bangkok
  • Eating at university outdoor markets

Almost all Thai universities benefit from outdoor markets, and Srinakharinwirot University (referred to as “Saw Nor Wor”) is no exception. Its market is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so if you amble up on a Friday, like I did last week, you are shit out of luck. My friend Vincent told me about it when we were arguing about the state of Thai street food on camera one day, and although we agree to disagree re. all Bangkokians’ access to street food, we do agree that the SNW market is pretty awesome.

This place has everything, including an elusive yum naem sod (fermented pork salad) vendor who also serves khao chae (summertime rice) in season, a woman whom Vincent assures me is real and absolutely not made up like a unicorn or a mermaid.  Although I have yet to try this woman’s food, I did have some lovely khao yum (Southern Thai-style rice herbal salad) and some salad rolls that I immediately regretted purchasing. There was Thai-Vietnamese-style kai kata (egg in a pan) with corresponding kanom pang yad sai (bun stuffed with Chinese sausage and steamed pork loaf), as well as some harder-to-find offerings like mee kati (noodles in coconut milk) and something called Hong Kong noodle, which is reminiscent of the “complicated noodle” at Greyhound Cafe.

hknoodle

There are also old-fashioned Thai desserts and sweet snacks like tako (pudding with coconut milk topping) topped with flecks of steamed taro or mango.

kanom

There were also fresh fruits and vegetables, drinks and even fancy items like organic melon, grown via university project, Vincent says. The only drawbacks, I’d say, are the dozens of fried items on sticks sent to torment me into abandoning my diet and the blaring, intense summer heat, which might be the worst it’s ever been. Of course, the university students continue to munch outside unruffled by the weather, unconcerned about the coming apocalypse — another great thing about not being old, when you start sweating profusely and embarrassing your dining companions.

I’m so gifted at finding what I don’t like the most. So I think it’s time for us to have a toast.  Here’s to the Travis Scott generation.

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Let’s Eat

dakgalbi

Dak galbi the way Soo-kyung would have had it

Something was going on in my life, and it was becoming a problem. So much of a problem, in fact, that my husband and friend would have intervened, if not for the fact that there are only two seasons of it. I am referring, of course, to the South Korean drama (?) “Let’s Eat”, which is ostensibly about a sad pathetic young divorcee named Soo-kyung (season 1), but is really about Korean food. You see, she loves food (specifically Korean food, this is important), but she is so sad and pathetic that she has few friends to eat with. In her quest for finding food partners, she ends up meeting friends and even eventually getting a love life. Oh, and busting an evil serial killer and helping to fix up a troubled young man’s life and … you get the picture, maybe. Season 2 is about a different young woman in a different Korean city, but the same ingredients are there: the woman is sad and pathetic and loves food (specifically Korean), a sinister subplot, a seemingly perfect guy who is good on paper, a cute dog, an extremely cute young woman, a catty female co-worker, a convenience store, a dry cleaner, a food blogging mansplaining male protagonist who is inexplicably irresistible to all women, and truly incredible shots of Korean food.

“Let’s Eat” is valuable in that it shows you what the definition of sad and pathetic is in South Korean life, and that definition definitely fits me. Haha, jk. What is truly love about “Let’s Eat” is that it is food porn in its purest form. You know how you are watching a porno and the plots are the most useless, flimsiest contrivances possible, useful only in connecting the various sex scenes together? Pizza delivery guy when the husband is away, pool cleaning guy when the husband is away, cowboys going camping, blah blah you get the picture? That is “Let’s Eat”, where the scenes are just excuses for making the characters sit and discuss food, with a particular focus on the eating. I mean the actual eating, the slurping and exclaiming and chewing (mansplainer is an especially loud chewer), with close-ups for the food that are so detailed that I swear they use a special filter for them. It is here, not in Seoul, where I learned about black bean noodles slick with soy glaze, gelatinous cartilage coated in red chili sauce, octopus shabu. When I watch these scenes, I have to put my hand over my mouth, to catch the drool.

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Fried chicken, one meal featured in season 1

Like all great art, “Let’s Eat” can be interpreted in different ways. Trude, whom I’ve forced to watch every single excruciating/drool-worthy episode, sees “Let’s Eat” as an ode to female pleasure. I see it as a nationalistic celebration of things that are unabashedly Korean.* The food is perfectly tailored, George R R Martin-style, to each specific situation and character: sad-ass onigiri from a convenience store when the main character is stressed and alone; overcooked slices of liver at a dingy Korean BBQ spot when the mansplainer is sad; boiled chicken stuffed in glutinous rice, floating in broth on a rooftop with garden-fresh veggies when characters are just starting to get to know each other. Western-style steak at a stilted and pleasure-less meal with the losing suitor for the female protagonist’s affections. A molecular gastronomy dinner with a different, ill-fated Prince Charming. A “Thai” meal (which includes that most iconic of Thai dishes, PHO), where mansplainer gets to show off his Thai language skills. And in one of my favorite scenes, a bizarre Korean-Italian feast consumed almost entirely by a woman who has decided to give up on her diet because WHAT IS THE POINT (me every other day). Foreign food is invariably expensive and the settings uncomfortable, putting the characters in situations where they are ill at ease. It’s the Korean food — specifically the sort of down-to-earth food featured in bars and shophouse restaurants — that make the characters their happiest.

*(There are also more unsavory interpretations, like how it’s a cautionary tale about what happens when you’re female and single).

I have just spent 630 words blathering on about “Let’s Eat”. That is how much I love this show. I haven’t even gotten into how its examination of Korean food has given me an appreciation for the variety and freshness of Thai food.  It’s also given me the strength of character to open the boxes of kimchi we carted back from the Kim Chi Museum in Seoul LAST JULY.

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kimchi

In fact, I love this show so much that I’ve run out of steam writing about what I originally intended to write about, and which I’ll save for next week. If you desire a taste of something more Thai food-related, why not check out a Thai cooking masterclass run by Spice Vagrant? I initially turned on the first season of “Let’s Eat” to help jog my memory for this post, but now I find myself yet again sucked in, and will have to sign off in order to re-re-watch it in earnest. Send help, someone, please.

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The food of our dreams

uni

The uni roll at Kanesaka in Ginza

I just saw “Black Panther”, and plan on seeing it again this weekend with my son. Part of the thing I love about “Black Panther” are all the great think pieces that it’s inspired. But don’t you worry. I am not going to write a think piece about “Black Panther”. There are plenty of far more qualified people writing things about it.

One of those think pieces that really struck me — Jelani Cobb’s in the “New Yorker” — basically says that, yeah, Wakanda is a fictional place, but the “Africa” depicted for the rest of the world for hundreds of years was also fictional. As with most things, that got me thinking about food. Because food is also a cultural construct, and people actively choose how to showcase it to others. How many times have you seen images of Bangkok, streets heaving with locals in coolie hats and live animals (“Bridget Jones Edge of Reason”), or sidewalks choking with street food carts selling God-knows-what (every Bangkok food documentary), or intrepid, good-looking adventurers gamely chomping on crispy grasshoppers or freshly grilled intestines (everything else). I’m not criticizing it, because that’s what people want to see if they haven’t been somewhere; they want to see something that’s different from what they know. I do this too. In Harbin, China, where I spent four days freezing my ass off in -40-degree Celsius temperatures, I wasn’t really all that interested in taking photos of the deep-fried fish and steamed dumplings that everyone eats over there. It was stuff like this:

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Cocoons, fresh enough to jiggle from time to time

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Chicken fetuses

This is why you get the Africa you see in “Tarzan” and all those colonial safari movies and Taylor Swift videos. Who wants to see some dude grabbing groceries at Big C before trudging to his condo in On Nut after a long day of work? I don’t even want to see that, unless it’s to pass judgment on the quality of his food haul (probably instant noodles and beer, amirite?) It’s why I don’t watch reality TV shows like “Dance Moms” or “Real Housewives”: if I want to hear some lady yelling at me, I can just call my mom.

What I do want to criticize, because hello, this is me, nice to meet you, is Bangkok’s reaction to it. When Bangkok does crazy shit like build a “tasting robot” to judge food authenticity (a losing proposition if there ever was one) or try to “declutter” streets by taking away people’s food choices, they are reacting to this construct, this culinary jungle Tarzan idea, that is completely out of their control. This seems about as useful as complaining about anyone who is still Facebook friends with your ex-boyfriend (didn’t they hear what a dick he was? Omigod Taylor.)

There’s a flip side to this Tarzan, though, and that’s Wakanda: something that is awesome because it is different, something that you want to seek out, and not as a foil to show off the superiority of the mundane. When you go to a different country, you want to find that sense of wonder, Wakanda even, in your food. In Japan, that usually means stuff like sushi or — since sushi is ubiquitous all over the world now — delicious chicken bits on sticks like this:

yakitori

It usually doesn’t mean stuff like pasta, even though a form of it is what Japanese people (and Asians everywhere) eat all the time, either with the tomato sauce, cream sauce or pesto that you recognize and love, or with fish eggs, seaweed, shiso leaves and a crapload of freshly ground black pepper, like at my favorite restaurant in Tokyo (no joke), Spajiro:

spajiro

In Thailand, the food that gets fetishized as “exotic” varies, of course, depending on who you are. There are insects, sure, and pad Thai and soup noodles, but if you ask me (no one asked me), nothing screams “Thailand” and “exotic” and “Other” like Isaan food: grilled meat, chilies, spicy dips and relishes, baskets brimming with lush local fauna, and the holy food trinity of pounded papaya salads, grilled chicken and sticky rice. For the truly die-hard, the bona fide Thai chili head, it’s Isaan food that moves the emotional needle, the thing that screams “Thailand” whether that’s what a majority of Thais are eating (quite a few suggest that might be the case) or not.

Right now, there is nothing more “Instagram-ready” than what you would find on the menu at the extremely buzzy 100 Mahaseth, an Isaan specialist that I can unabashedly say I am a big fan of (hence the write-up of a place that is not even close to being street food. (Also, Instagram is destroying food, but that’s fodder for another day’s thoughts. Also, microherbs=millennial parsley)).  Yes, there are descriptors like “nose-to-tail” and ya dong (moonshine) on tap and its Thai hipster clientele and its very buzzy location on the very buzzy Charoen Krung Road, but it’s more than those parts. It’s well-made food that still surprises even the most jaded Thai palate and gives umami up the wazoo:

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The pounded Thai eggplant salad, which looks a lot better than my own version

The cassia leaf and braised oxtail curry (tom ki lek), the fish sauce-marinated pork chop with young green chili dip, the curried pig’s brain with rice noodles, the grilled bone marrow dressed in perilla seeds, even the house-made ya dong: there is so much to try, so little time. Like the next showing of “Black Panther”, I am already planning my next visit.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Starchy streetside snack at the market in Yangon

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Glutton Abroad: Polynesian dreamin

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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.

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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.

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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).

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“Chinese-style” poisson cru at Restaurant Menere

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“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.

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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.

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

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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.

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Poached black cod at now-Michelin-starred Paste

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The emoji menu at two-Michelin-starred Gaggan

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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.

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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:

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

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A plate of som tum at Krua Khun Ton in Korat

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

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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

 

 

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