Friday, February 29, 2008

On my own

Yeah, that beach at Haad Yao was awesome. My soul enjoys beach living. The ocean looked so inviting, and the green water just off the beach extended far enough and was calm and shallow enough to treat like a swimming pool; yes, we bought a floatee and used it.

And the party, I knew it was something special as we walked through the streets to the beach: I first saw a girl getting a tattoo at one of the many parlors and she looked passed out drunk; next door you could see a doctor’s office/makeshift operating room. In the middle of the room you could see four nurses/doctors standing around a 20-something male with a bloody towel in his hand, and you could see them stitching up a cut on his head. We overheard a few feet away that a fight had caused it. Both of these businesses looked like one of dozens of similar operations within a few kilometer radius. Those two sights side-by-side really clued me in to the level of party we were getting into.

After Emma went off to Bangkok, I went down to Krabi in the southwest. I found a cheap place to stay, checked out some of the scenery, and got some work done at the internet cafes. The ocean down here is similarly awesome, but this time you have islands sticking out of the water like small skyscrapers, with limestone cliffs and vegetation on top. Apparently one of these formations was special enough to be filmed in Bond’s Man with a Golden Gun. There was even a tour called “James Bond Boat Tour.” Down there was pretty touristy in general.

So I embraced the touristy-ness and took a Thai cooking class. We had been meaning to do it the whole time in Thailand and was one of my main goals in coming to Thailand at all. I found a pretty sweet operation and it was a great experience. They drove me out to this lady’s property where she had a structure with maybe 600 sq feet of undercover space, with 10 stoves, 3 sinks, two nice clean tables for preparation, knifes, cutting boards, mortars (I forget what they’re called), and all the ingredients cleaned and ready for preparation, sitting on the table. They show you how to prepare both red and green curries from scratch (using a mortar thing to pound out the pepper, cumin, and coriander), as well as the staple dishes: pad thai, tom yum, and stir fried stuff. When actually cooking, there’s an assistant there who tells you when to do each thing and how much. “OK, five spoons of alskdfjla.” “Five spoons of what?” They point. “Oh right. That bowl of mystery liquid. Of course. Roger that.” No, she explained the mystery ones later: tamarind mixed with water (kind of tasted vinegary), chicken stock, one bottle of fish sauce or whatever, and the other ended up being soy sauce. So nothing too crazy. But it was fun because what we were making tasted fricking awesome and if I can ever reproduce something half this good, well, let’s just say major good-at-life points.

It just tasted too good, and the other 4 people in the class would give me strange looks when I was oohing and ahhing after taking a taste of something, closing my eyes in enjoyment. I’m no great cook, but at least I wasn’t as stupid as the goofy Austrian dude who cut himself within – no joke – twenty seconds of receiving his knife and beginning preparation of the curry ingredients. He also ruined one of the dishes when he didn’t hear her say two spoons and instead dumped an entire small bowl of tamarind juice into the dish. The assistants had to go and quickly get the ingredients prepared again.

All the students ate together and we were all truly stuffed by the end before finishing all the things we had made. It made me teary-eyed to see some of the soups get thrown out. And I won’t remember much of anything from the class – there was too much information, too quickly – but hopefully following the little recipes I’ll eventually jar some of the great things they showed us.

1 comment:

Hamster said...

Don't know if you've seen this already but if not Yu might be interested in this website.
www.thaifoodtonight.com
It's got about 30 recipes each one with a cooking video to go along
Good if you like to try cooking Thai food at home