Let me tell you about my first real taste of Thai food. It was at a very expensive Bangkok hotel where I worked for some years and I remember feeling like a thousand needles were piercing my tongue. It was divine, so much so that I went back and have never returned to eat any Thai food since then! Let me tell you my story so you can experience the same bliss.
My Thai restaurant business partner and I used to run out of space in the kitchen almost every night so we resorted to making pork rinds, chicken wings and beef intestines. We loved the taste and the freshness of the dish. I’m not certain whether it was because we weren’t paying enough attention to the quality or the quantity of food we served that night or what exactly it was, but it certainly wasn’t a good meal by any stretch of the imagination.
A couple of weeks later I was invited to a dinner party where Thai chef Tony contacted me and offered me the chance to try his famous Pho Ngan served with spring rolls and rice paper. The only problem being I had never cooked anything like this before. I didn’t have a clue what to expect.
‘What are you going to put in the soup?’ he asked. ‘I’ll try,’ I lied. The soup was tasty, but the dish had too many components for me to get my head around it. It was complicated and I found myself trying to work out how to eat it without burning my tongue.
I was soon going through the menu as a form of self-defense – no one was going to mess with me while I was tasting this monstrous blend of spices and noodles. After a few sips I managed to get a taste of the dish and was amazed by the fact that the taste of Thai food wasn’t overpowering nor was it overpowering. The distinct taste of each dish was actually quite delicious and there was a variety of ingredients so that I could choose what to pair it with. There were several dishes that I would have loved to have cooked on my own, but once again, the cook was clearly the better cook.
I next came across something called ‘Naan’, which translates as ‘pottery bowls’. The first time I saw this word, I thought that perhaps it was a misspelling. The fact that the word ‘pottery’ is also used to describe the clay itself made it even more interesting to me. The word Naan basically means ‘dish, small bowl’. It didn’t take me long to conjure up the image of old Chinese porcelain bowls sitting on the dinner table. In my mind, it conjured up images of the happiness and comfort of sitting down to a leisurely meal, whilst hearing the sound of the bowl rustling as it was gently heated by the fire.
The next course I tried was called ‘Tahu telur’, which roughly translates to ‘pot of rice soup’. Again, it was another dish that I didn’t immediately associate with Asian food, but as I bit deeper, I started to identify myself with it. I could smell the fish, the spices, and all of the ingredients, and it did indeed taste almost exactly like the food I had been eating offline!
The last course that I had the pleasure of trying was called ‘Dau Mi Sui’, which means ‘pot of mixed vegetables’. I thought to myself that this was a very interesting dish but one that perhaps wasn’t for everyone. I’m not normally the type of person who enjoys a heavy meat-based curry and having to give it a go at this stage in the tasting was difficult. However, once I had finished my second glass, I knew that this would be a dish that I would continue to try when I was in the mood. I’m already looking forward to trying some of the Thai food online that I get on e-mail.