Inventing Traditions

I've mentioned before on a rant on my other blog about inventing food traditions. Many people came to Cambodia expecting to find a completely "authentic" "untouched" cuisine, where in fact, subsistence production and food scarcity means most food in the villages is pretty basic - a lot of rice, a plain fish soup perhaps, maybe some kangkong and some fermented fish. The truth is, it is only with economic growth and increased tourism and wealth that new food traditions are being invented in the previously non-existent restaurants and street vendors.

I find a lot of people like to try and boil down food to some essentialised and above all "authentic" number of dishes which must be cooked according to some said authorities "authentic" method using only prescribed ingredients.

But the thing I love about Thailand is that it has long been a multicultural hub, a regional and global centre, with different cultures introducing their own cuisine. Thai food itself is a kind of fusion between malay, chinese, indian, and laos traditions, mixed of course with chili from south america.

what I like is that after time different food cultures mingle with Thai food and new food traditions are invented, like Thai spaghetti....over time new food inventions become tradition

Much is made of the fact that Thailand is not and never has been colonised....from my own humble opinion I tend to think that one of the reasons for this is that Thais are experts at appropriating different cultural traditions and making them thoroughly Thai...I think that this is what makes Thailand interesting, dynamic and above all comes from an openess to the world and a willingness to experiment

Hock's Sous chef takes many seeds and roots from a lot of the exotic varieties and imported vegetables they serve at the "high so" restaurant where he works. He takes them back to his farm upcountry and grows them. Among other things he grows avocados and horseraddish (he's been experimenting with asparagus but so far he's not successful)...of course there's no local demand for these exotic veges but he sends them to market anyway and more adventurous shoppers take it home and have a play...

Its all good in my books

Picture: Chiang Rai Parking Lot Pizza

spotted outside of the night bazaar and delivering all around inner city Chiang Rai....thoroughly Thai style pizza....cooked in portable convection ovens and only 49 baht...prices that Pizza Hutt can never compete with...



Picture: "Authentic Thin Crust Pizza at Da Vinci's Chiang Rai"

Chiang Rai Hilltribe Lamington

I kid not, found at the Bakery across from the major Bus Terminal in the centre of town which is reportedly a project set up to help Hilltribe women earn some extra cash...the hilltribe lamington has a layer of pandan flavoured marzipan was also very yummy


    that lamington looks mega

    On 15 September 2007 at 17:15 Anonymous said...

    I can confirm said sous chef grows (in Issan where his family lives)

    Japanese spinach (NZ Spinach)
    Red and yellow bell peppers
    Cherry tomatoes
    and Peas

    Micro greens are no good no one buys them at the market


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