July 25, 2002 - Columbia Star: Thailand RPCV returns to learn Thai Cooking

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 07 July 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: July 25, 2002 - Columbia Star: Thailand RPCV returns to learn Thai Cooking

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 27, 2002 - 9:56 pm: Edit Post

Thailand RPCV returns to learn Thai Cooking

Read and comment on this story from the Coumbia Star on Thailand RPCV Warner Montgomery who returned to Thailand after 40 years to take a course in Thai cooking at:

Americans learn Thai cooking*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Americans learn Thai cooking

Warner M. Montgomery

Ever since I first ate fried rice in Thailand in 1962, Thai food has been a favorite with me. Peace Corps volunteers live on the local economy, eat the local food, and speak the local language…so the recruiters say. In many countries that is a real hardship. In Thailand, with the exception of the very difficult language, it was a pleasure.

I learned to "enjoy" rice soup topped with dried fish for breakfast, rice with spicy veggies and spicier meat for lunch, and fried rice with curry for dinner. I now know this was popular (or village) cuisine. The now popular Thai food served throughout the world is royal cuisine. The recipes were only recently released by the royal chefs.

Thai etiquette calls for eating with a spoon in the right hand and a fork in the left. The fork pushes the food onto the spoon. Soup is sipped from a bowl with or without a spoon. Chopsticks are used with Chinese food and fingers are never used.

Thai cooking calls for lots of garlic and chilies cooked with fresh ingredients, particularly herbs. Lime juice, lemon grass, and coriander give Thai food its tang, and fish sauce makes it salty. Of course, black pepper, basil, peanuts, tamarind juice, ginger, and coconut milk are added to special dishes.

Typically, a sauce of meat, veggies, and spices is prepared in a wok and served with white rice. For one meal there may be three or four sauces. Rice is always the staple. In fact, the word to eat (kin khaw) in Thai is literally translated as to eat rice.

On our trip to Thailand in February, 2002, Linda decided we should take a Thai cooking class. There are many cooking schools in Bangkok. The Boathouse, Chiang Mai Thai Cookery, Modern Housewife Centre, Oriental Hotel Cooking School, and the UFM Food Centre are among the most popular ones. She chose Bussaracum Royal Thai Cuisine Culinary School because it is also a restaurant, and the courses could be one–meal long.

We joined a dozen or so other foreigners for a dinner course on February 8. We were greeted by a lovely young hostess, ushered to our seats around a large U–shaped table, and served a beautiful mango daiquiri. At the top of the U was the "kitchen" manned by a cook and the chef. The tops of the woks and cutting tables could be seen in a slanted mirror placed over the cooking area.

Our menu for the evening was Cho Muang appetizer (flower–shaped dumplings filled with minced chicken), Masaman Chicken Curry main course (chicken breast simmered in coconut milk and masaman curry with peanuts and potatoes), and Bua Loy Sam Si dessert (taro, pumpkin, and pandanus in sweetened coconut milk).

The chef circled among the students parceling out ingredients in small saucers. Then, with the hostess’s assistance and the cook’s expert demonstration, we put each course together. Our creations were passed to the cook who finished them off in the wok.

After three hours of laughing and eating, I received a certificate which read: This is to certify that Warner Montgomery has successfully completed the Royal Thai Tastes of Thailand cooking classes and has earned a Bussaracum Culinary Diploma. Linda got one, too.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; What RPCVs are doing; COS - Thailand



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