At the urge of Melissa at the Traveler’s Lunchbox, I’ve decided to play along with her fun foodgame and list the five things I feel one should make a point of stuffing into his/her gob before the unfortunate but inevitable event of passing away. Here are my five:
1. Khao Soi (as prepared in northern Thailand, of course)
This is the legendary curry noodle soup indigenous to northern Thailand. Served with beef or chicken and egg noodles and a side of sliced shallots, lime and picked mustard cabbage, the dish encompasses virtually every taste and flavour. Whenever I have friends or family visiting I always make a point of introducing this dish, and invariably people love it.
2. Beer from Oregon
I come from just east of Portland, Oregon, a city considered by many to be one of the world’s beer hotspots (and by some accounts, the city with the most breweries per capita). Beer from Oregon is almost certainly the one food I really and truly miss here in Thailand, and I would give my left earlobe to obtain access virtually anything from Portland’s own Widmer, or Newport’s Rogue, or especially my favorite beer of all time, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, an example of American brewing at its best, courtesy of Bend Oregon’s own Deschutes Brewery.
3. Orecchiette con Cime di Rapa
I’ve been making my own version of this southern Italian pasta dish for years using dried pasta, Thai anchovies (!), pecorino romano, broccoli and a generous amount of dried Thai chilies. I’ve always liked it, but never realized how perfect a pasta dish it really is until I was fed the dish by Giovanni Speciali, a native of Puglia, and (former) head chef at the Bangkok Four Season’s Biscotti. His take employed fresh orecchiette (“little ears”) pasta, plump cherry tomatoes from Italy, young broccoli sprouts from northern Thailand and grated ricotta dura de pecora, a semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese from Puglia. What I learned from Chef Giovanni’s version is that besides being absolutely delicious, the dish is drop dead easy to make; all you need is the best ingredients possible.
4. Real Bread
Not WonderBread. Not Whole Wheat Bread. In fact, nothing already sliced or in a plastic package will do. It has to be kneaded by a human, is probably European in origin, and has a tender yet chewy center, and a crisp exterior. Dip it in something greasy or spread it with the coagulated milkfat of a well-fed cow; it’s been the stuff of life for a long time and shows no sign of dying out. A good place to taste Real Bread is the Pearl Bakery, in Portland, Oregon.
5. Anything green prepared phat fai daeng
Phat fai daeng is Thai for “fried with a red flame” and refers to the Chinese-influenced style of cooking where one flash fries veggies, igniting the cooking oil to give the dish a pleasant “smoky” flavour. In Thailand these dishes usually use phak boong (morning glory, an aquatic vegetable) or kai lan, flavoured with fried with oyster sauce or fermented soybeans, along with copious garlic and tiny fresh Thai chilies. Salty, spicy, garlicky and green–everything you need.
I pass the mission along to the following food bloggers:
1. The one and only Pieman, Graham at noodlepie.
2. My homegirl Pim at chez pim.
3. Everybody’s favourite meat-obsessed Cambodia correspondant Phil at Phnomenon.
4. Former Thailand inhabitant Robyn at EatingAsia.
5. Culinary globetripper Mike at Trippin’ Mag.