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Making Food Memories in Bangkok

Making Food Memories in Bangkok

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when entering a foreign country for the first time. When I landed in Bangkok, I was a little intimated by its sheer size, the difference in culture, and most importantly, the variety of street food. Since Bangkok has a reputation for the most authentic street food culture in the world, the trip allowed me to explore street food beyond my comfort zone.

Everyone who has ever eaten pad thai thinks they’ve tried Thai food, but the food served at your local restaurant is nothing like the real thing. Authentic Thai dishes are much more pungent, complex, and flavorful than their U.S. counterparts.

Enhanced by quality and the use of fish sauce, shrimp paste, and fermented mussels, real Thai food has marked differences from Americanized Thai food. When I watched an elderly lady prepare my first Thai meal of noodle-free pad thai at the Amphawa floating market, I knew I was experiencing a new level of cuisine.

Sensory Overload

Part of being adventurous with food is using all of your senses to experience it. This was easy to do in Bangkok; the sights, sounds, and tastes were much different from I was used to.

The aromas of Bangkok’s food varied in pungency, too. The smell of spices pervaded the streets of the city, the aroma of fermented sour sausages wafted from vendors’ shops, and no matter where I went, the raw fish and meat sold at floating markets left a trail of unforgettable odors. To say my nose was overwhelmed is an understatement!

Some scents were much more pleasant than others (not many enjoy the stench of sun-cured raw fish or meat), but it was all part of the adventure. My overloaded senses were a teaser for the real meal. And let’s get one thing straight: street food in Bangkok is as real as food gets.

Trying the Thai

When we decided to try the food (rather than just smell it!), we ventured to the floating markets, where the vendors on each long boat were preparing dishes as if they had a full kitchen at their disposal. We tried the green papaya salad and noodle-free pad thai — two familiar Thai dishes you can often get in America. But I wanted to explore the scene even more and try a dish that sustained the locals, so we ventured on.


As we approach a year since our plant based and vegan delivery service began in Bangkok, we’re sharing our recipe for chickpea salad. This simple dish has been one of the most popular recipes this past tumultuous year.

We hope this filling, oil-free, and healthy dish will also become a staple in your kitchen as well. The recipe is great for people with dietary restrictions, can be used as an appetizer, and versatile enough to include other vegetables you may have on hand.

Remember if you find this recipe helpful to consider making a donation to Courageous Kitchen. For our friends and fans Bangkok based, you can order this dish from our menu, where you can also find our delivery schedule and other details.

Enjoy this easy chickpea salad recipe and a beautiful addition to a healthy meal.


Noodle Soup

Guay Teow, or noodle soup, is the most popular Thai street food dish. It comes from China (hence the Chinese name) but has become uniquely Thai through the years. The soup is made from a chicken, pork or beef stock, and the noodles are either rice noodles or egg noodles (you get to pick). Most vendors throw in some vegetables and either sliced meat, meatballs or wontons. So how is it uniquely Thai? Condiments such as dried chili peppers, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce are added.


Jennifer Garner Makes Food to Make Memories

Actress Jennifer Garner says food &ldquoplants memories in your soul,&rdquo and is constantly trying new recipes to make more memories.

If you've been watching Jennifer Garner's "Pretend Cooking Show" on her Instagram &mdash and if you haven't, take this as the sign you need to watch it ASAP &mdash then you know how much the award-winning actress loves food. In the ongoing "Instagram series" of sorts, she shows fans how she makes some of her favorite recipes, often with help from friends including her whip-smart mother and cooking icon Ina Garten. The videos are filmed in her cozy-looking kitchen and always include common cooking faux pas that make viewers feel like they're really involved with the whole experience, whether it's Garner forgetting to preheat the oven, or mixing up certain steps, or spilling a little here or there. With a very Julia Child-esque joie de vivre , her cooking videos take the stuffiness out of the kitchen &mdash it's all about playing with recipes and having fun.

So when Garner spoke with Woman's Day on behalf of Capital One Venture, of course we had to get the scoop on all things food-related. "Oh gosh, food is very important," Garner tells Woman's Day. "It plants memories into your soul." Garner says food, to her, is all about creating memories and enjoying the simple things in life. "When I smell homemade bread, it takes me back to being in my house as a kid and feeling safe and knowing something good was coming out of the oven," she says. "It's physical health, it's emotional health, and you're just setting up a healthy system for your kids to grow up and enjoy. It's also a joyful thing, it's something you create out of nothing."

Garner will seemingly try any recipe, and lately she's been on a Barefoot Contessa kick, working through recipes from the new cookbook Modern Comfort Food. "I've had it a week and a half, or two weeks, and I've already cooked I think half of it, and a couple things twice," she says. Her favorites include the roast chicken, the lamb ragu rigatoni, and the beef bourguignon. "I don't just eat meat dishes," she laughs. "It just sounds like it right now." She's also a sucker for "any kind of cookies" and bread.

Garner's no muss no fuss attitude in the kitchen can be reassuring to cooking newcomers who might not feel ready to tackle seemingly complicated recipes. Luckily, Garner has some advice for beginners: "I would say, choose one recipe that you want to know how to do, like roast chicken, just choose one thing and then make it, and then make it again, and then make it again, so that you get really comfortable and you own that recipe," she says.

And a little pro-tip she just learned for the muffin-lovers out there: "One thing that my friend Ina Garten just taught me is that you can make a muffin batter and put it in a container, and you can just put it in your fridge and leave it there," she says. "Several days later you can pull it out and make fresh muffins instead of having muffins that you're reheating. It's a game changer. If you make a muffin batter on Saturday and then a different kind of batter on Sunday, then you have two or three days of fresh muffins for later in the week." And really, what more could you want?


Community Reviews

Punyaratabandhu&aposs bias to Thailand, specifically Bangkok, is apparent from page one. But that doesn&apost make it wrong. Her love for Bangkok is the core of this entire book. The reader is given a piece of Punyaratabandhu&aposs heart as she lays bare her passions for the city and its food. In some ways, Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand is more than just a cookbook, it&aposs a love letter to the city and food she has fallen for.

I love the way this book is organized. Instead of the usua Punyaratabandhu's bias to Thailand, specifically Bangkok, is apparent from page one. But that doesn't make it wrong. Her love for Bangkok is the core of this entire book. The reader is given a piece of Punyaratabandhu's heart as she lays bare her passions for the city and its food. In some ways, Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand is more than just a cookbook, it's a love letter to the city and food she has fallen for.

I love the way this book is organized. Instead of the usual, Appetizers, Rice, Chicken, Beef… etc. We have been given a table of contents which reflects the way Bangkokians eat and consider their food. Our chapters are given titles such as "Savory Bites", "Rice Accompaniments" and "Sweets". Coupled with details about how to stock a Bangkok-focused pantry and how and where to recognize commonly used Thai ingredients, I knew I had found a winner when it comes to learning about Bangkok cuisine.

Unfortunately, I struggled with the format of the recipes. As an American, I am used to following numbered steps. In the case of Bangkok: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Thailand, we are instead presented with paragraphs describing the steps for each recipe. While all the steps (I'm sure) are there, I never ONCE made a recipe correctly. I would lose my place and skip or duplicate a step. I just don't have the mental focus to follow direction in paragraph form.

In conclusion, I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about Bangkok cuisine or is an accomplished chef with access to many southeastern Asians ingredients. But other than that? Well, I'll work on finding you a more accessible cookbook. Lord knows I need it. Meanwhile, I'll just stick with my stir-fry and pad thai recipes. Until the next cookbook, at least. . more


Courageous Thai Recipes

Complete checkout to download our recipe magazine featuring our most popular recipes!

Each of the recipes includes high quality photos of the dishes which have been exhaustively tested and tasted. Yes, these are the recipes we use in our cooking class, and a great introduction to Thai cooking.

Along with the recipes we’ve included information on Courageous Kitchen, including great photos from our project. We hope this will help you get to know us better, and that you’ll join us in our mission to improve the lives of people in need.

The magazine is available in pdf form, and is best viewed in full screen mode on your computer.

The cost of the download is up to you, and all contributions will help us fundraise for our larger cook book project, thank you!

Be sure to also check the recipes section of our blog for more tasty eats.

This introductory collection of recipes includes:

1) Tom Kha Coconut Soup
2) Stir Fried Pad See Ew
3) Classic Pad Thai Sauce
4) Classic Pad Thai
5) Spicy Basil Pad Krapow
6) Mango and Sticky Rice

Have a recipe you would like that’s not listed here? Be sure to mention it when you download this product.

We will take the feedback and donations from this book to help us create our first cook book. Thank you for being a part of this important, and tasty work!


5. Halwa Puri

If there’s one special Pakistani food breakfast that loved by all, it would have to be halwa puri.

Known for causing feelings of extreme satisfaction, even to the point of laziness, for the remainder of the day. Halwa Puri is one of the most common breakfasts you’ll have in Pakistan.

The puris are thinly rolled dough, forming endlessly ultra-crispy layers, the folding style of which causes it to puff up immediately when submerging in boiling oil or desi ghee.

Halwa is then a sweet pudding like dish made from semolina which is served along with the puris. However, along with halwa and puri, you also typically get some chickpea curry.

Grab a crunchy handful of hot puri, and scoop up as much of whichever side dish is in reach. Lick your fingers, smile, and repeat. You can alternate bites of sweet halwa and spicy chickpeas.

Like most meals in Pakistan, this combo is perfected by finishing with at least one cup of dud pathi (milk-only tea, no water).

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Sheep and goats in Central Pakistan may even grow up already dreaming of curry spices…

Psychologists Explain Why Food Memories Can Feel So Powerful

Most of us have a memory of a food that takes us back to childhood. It can be as simple as a candy bar that we used to get as a treat during our youth, or more involved like a lemon bar recalling your first baking disaster. No matter the importance, memories involving food are vivid ― and they sometimes feel more evocative than other types of memories.

“Food memories are more sensory than other memories in that they involve really all five senses, so when you’re that thoroughly engaged with the stimulus it has a more powerful effect,” explains Susan Whitborne, professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts.

You’re not just using your sight, or just your taste, but all the senses and that offers the potential to layer the richness of a food memory.

Psychologist and neuroscientist Hadley Bergstrom, assistant professor of psychology at Vassar, takes it one step further. Bergstrom told HuffPost that “T aste memories tend to be the strongest of associative memories that you can make,” and explains that it’s because of a survival tactic called conditioned taste aversion.

Conditioned taste aversion is basically what happens when you get food poisoning and as a result, develop an aversion to a dish, ingredient or an entire restaurant for a certain amount of time.

“With conditioned taste aversion the effect of the sickness is so profound that even though you get sick hours after you’ve eaten the food, you’ll still make these extremely strong memories about what food you ate and where you ate the food,” Bergstrom said.

While this doesn’t directly relate to some of our happy childhood food memories, it does make a case for just how powerful our food memories are.

Our senses and survival tactics aren’t the only elements at play when it comes to food memories. The situation ― where you were, who you were with, what the occasion was ― adds the most power to our nostalgic taste memories.

“Food memories feel so nostalgic because there’s all this context of when you were preparing or eating this food, so the food becomes almost symbolic of other meaning,” Whitbourne says. “A lot of our memories as children, it’s not so much the apple pie, for example, but the whole experience of being a family, being nourished, and that acquires a lot of symbolism apart from the sensory quality.”

“The idea of nostalgia,” Bergstrom says, “is that the sauce [for example] is associated not only with yummy pasta, but also with grandma and her home ― that’s because food is so reinforcing. All of this stimuli in the environment become associated with the reinforcing properties of that yummy pasta sauce.” Bergstrom, as a neuroscientist, uses food in his behavior studies for this very reason.

That’s the nature of food memories. They aren’t just based on the facts, or our need for survival, but are shaped by the context ― the company, the situation and the emotions involved.

My step-mom always recounts how great her grandmother’s vanilla pudding was when she made it for her as a kid. She, at 57 years old, has been trying to recreate it since she was old enough to be cooking in a kitchen. It’s a flavor she can practically taste through her memory of that dish, but one that she has not been able to reproduce successfully. And it’s because she can’t recreate the context. She can make great vanilla pudding, but she can’t go back in time to the excitement she felt as a child for being given such a treat, by a person who was such a loving and nurturing force in her life.

Bergstrom concludes, “This is in the reinforcing nature of food, and that is what drives memory formation in the brain.”


Duangporn “Bo” Songvisava

Ask Bo what dish on her menu she is most excited about, and the answer may surprise you: “Green curry,” she says with an impish laugh.

You’d expect a more obscure answer from the owner of Bo.lan, the restaurant she runs with her husband and co-chef Dylan Jones. The decade-old establishment, whose portmanteau name means “ancient”, has been a brave pioneer in the Thai fine dining renaissance. The atmospheric house-and-garden space serves complex, hard-to-make recipes discovered in old royal-court cookbooks and rescued from collective cultural amnesia. For these efforts, Bo.lan has won and retained a Michelin star for three years, while 39-year-old Bo has earned the inaugural Asia’s Best Female Chef 2013 award and appeared in her own episode on Netflix’s wildly popular Chef’s Table series in 2018.

Bo.lan’s is no ordinary green curry. “I use Thai figs from over there,” Bo says, pointing to a fruiting tree across the garden. It came with the Thong Lor compound Bo.lan moved into five years ago, but it wasn’t until a recent visit from Thai food anthropologist Krit Leulamai that Bo identified the fruits that have been littering the yard every year. “You can’t really find good green curry,” Bo laments, “and Bo.lan couldn’t just put green curry with chicken on the menu.” Far from the too-rich, too-sweet knock-offs ubiquitous across the world, the version here is balanced and layered, enhanced with fish, crab and green, nutty, creamy Thai figs.

Bo.lan supports the livelihood of traditional, sustainable Thai farmers and food producers

Most ingredients at Bo.lan have equally special stories behind them, from the gaba rice to the palm sugar. “If you looked at my supplier list, you’d wonder if this girl knows how to do business,” Bo says without remorse. She has a different, carefully chosen producer supplying her salt, fish sauce, soy sauce and so on. “If you ran a business properly, you’d go to a one-stop shop for everything so you have bargaining power.”

But to Bo, supporting the livelihood of traditional, sustainable Thai farmers and food producers is inextricable from reviving traditional culinary practices. “If I weren’t a chef, I would be an activist,” she says. At industry events and on Thai PBS, Bo speaks regularly about food security, single-use plastic, devastating pesticide use, monoculture industrial farming and other pressing issues. On her Chef’s Table episode, she repeatedly talked about needing to “fight for Thai food”.

Bo.lan’s lush compound is a rather peaceful headquarters for this fight. Though now open for lunch, it recently reduced its covers from 80 to 45, and elected to close for a second day each week to promote work-life balance among staff. Before dinner service, Bo’s two young children often play in the kitchen and swim in the on-site pool. Three months ago, a permaculture specialist turned the garden space into a small, educational farm growing Thai basil, dill and other ingredients that appear on the menu. A high-tech composter in the back turns kitchen scraps into sweet-smelling soil overnight.

But sit down to the Bo.lan Feast menu, and it’s easy to see what Bo is fighting for. A shot of artisanal, herbal ya dong spirit kicks off a series of amuse-bouche platters, eaten from left to right in ascending strength of flavour. The main course, served family-style, is an eye-popping spread of duck salad with longan and guava green peppercorn relish with sweet pork belly Muslim-style oxtail and beef shank soup and of course the exquisite green curry – unforgettable dishes that were once nearly forgotten.

“It’s not easy to make good Thai food,” she stresses. “It takes time, effort, ingredients and knowledge. I’ve spent many years learning to make delicious food that still has a conscience. That doesn’t come cheap.”


12 Restaurants America Loves. With Recipes!

We’re making food from our favorite restaurants at home.

The column went from helping people make dinner to helping them recapture some of the happiness they’d felt once when they went out to eat. I suspect this change is the reason You Asked For It won the hearts of so many readers. Even if you hate blueberry muffins, you know what it’s like to love a restaurant meal so much that you want to relive it later on.

And if you didn’t know that feeling before, you know it now. In New York, like many other big cities around the country, the only place to have a restaurant meal since March has been in your own head. I have a small file of memories that I play when I can’t stand the sight of my own kitchen:

Waiting and waiting for my order of jerk chicken to come up at Exquisite Express in Brooklyn, wondering why there are always so many people waiting when there seem to be several hundred blackened chicken legs sitting on the grill already. And then, when I get called up and asked how I want my chicken, getting it with a long hose-down from the hot sauce bottle and a healthy squirt of barbecue sauce, and then, why not, a final graffiti scrawl of tamarind sauce.

Taking the last empty seat at the bar of I Sodi on a West Village weeknight, holding a Negroni that flashes red like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, eavesdropping, reading the menu but knowing the whole time that it’s going to be lasagna. Or rabbit. Or lasagna and rabbit.

Studying the blistered triangles and rectangles and coils and knots of deep-fried pig parts spread out below greasy bare light bulbs in the steamy front window of 188 Cuchifritos in the Bronx, then rolling inside, sidestepping the Lotto line, ordering one of everything and watching as one of the women behind the counter drops the oranges for my morir soñando into the ancient juicer.

But I can’t do any of those things now. Some restaurants, though I hope not any of these, have already said they won’t be able to come back. Many more are gone and we, or they, just don’t know it yet. The ones that are able to return won’t look, feel or act the same for a long time.

What to Cook Right Now

Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the coming days. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.

    • Do not miss Yotam Ottolenghi’s incredible soba noodles with ginger broth and crunchy ginger. for fungi is a treat, and it pairs beautifully with fried snapper with Creole sauce.
    • Try Ali Slagle’s salad pizza with white beans, arugula and pickled peppers, inspired by a California Pizza Kitchen classic.
    • Alexa Weibel’s modern take on macaroni salad, enlivened by lemon and herbs, pairs really nicely with oven-fried chicken.
    • A dollop of burrata does the heavy lifting in Sarah Copeland’s simple recipe for spaghetti with garlic-chile oil.

    I have a bowl full of matchbooks by my bed that I’ve picked up in restaurants. Looking at them doesn’t make me feel anything except an urge to smoke. The only things I know that can make restaurants come alive when I’m outside their walls are recipes. Even when I don’t cook them, they still do that.

    But I’ve had lots and lots of time lately for cooking meals that put me in touch with some place I used to go. Tonight, I’ll make Jim Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough so that tomorrow night, with my broiler running as hot as it will go, I can make pizza in the style of Co., which has been closed for two years.

    When You Asked For It was still being published, people generally wanted recipes for dishes they could get at some restaurant that existed. Maybe it was on the other side of town or halfway across the world, but it was there, and the reader who loved that dish so much could still go there and eat it. A recipe in the column was a postcard from another place, one that you might go back to one day.

    Any restaurant recipe now is a postcard from another time: The time before this, when you could just take a subway, a taxi, a ferry or a plane without thinking twice, and when you could arrive wherever you were going and walk down a street where the lights were on and the doors were open.

    Inside, there probably wasn’t any room at the bar, but you could squeeze in, catch the bartender’s eye and, when your cocktail, so cold it almost hurt, landed in front of you, you could smile, and know that other people could see you doing it.

    If You Asked For It were still around, just think how busy the editors would be.


    Watch the video: Bangkok Street Food - Pad Thai, Fried Morning Glory, Pad See Ew, Papaya Salad (December 2021).