What's on the Manu?

Encountered at a street-side eatery & juice place near Silom.

Latte Art Mae Hong Son


Cooking with Mega Chefs

I've been debating what to call this blog post over in my head for a while now, I was thinking about calling it Mae Hong Son, The Other Provence, or Cooking with the Stars.

Let me explain. A couple of weekends ago I headed to Mae Hong Son for the weekend, where my long suffering beloved was taking a week long bromance with Thai food aficionados Austin Bush and Andy of Pok Pok fame. I got to stay for a single weekend, during which it mostly rained. So we decided to stay in and cook. We went to the markets and bought a huge array of not-so-exotic mushrooms other required ingredients for making gaeng hed.


I insisted on buying stink beans.


We also got the ingredients for Burmese pickled tea leaf salad and picked up some larb kuat, larb dip and grilled chicken on the way home.


Cooking got under way.


Some people would and do spend a fair sum of money to cook food with AB and Andy, instead I got bossy and insisted that someone invent a new yummy dish involving stink beans. Andy delivered big time with a dish of stink beans with kapi and mushrooms


Our other favourite Thai food expert was unable to attend the gathering as he was busy in Bangkok promoting his new fish sauce brand Mega Chef and couldn't make it to MHS, he was however present in fishy spirit.


We sat down to an astoundingly good meal



In an outdoor dining room located next to this picturesque rice field


Mae Hong Son is truly beautiful and I wish that I had gotten to spend more time there. Initially my plan was to finish writing my PhD up in MHS but this plan was scrapped after hard words from my supervisor and the realisation that job hunting from the sticks probably wasn't the smartest idea I've ever had. Nonetheless I plan to go back. It's not quite Provence however, as it was apparently described to my friend in New York by a hi so Thai acquaintance, but if fish sauce is your balsamic, stink beans your broad beans and larb dip your beef tartar, it could well be even better.



Virtualise my sausage

Via swissmiss: grill me a sausage, foolish iPhone.

Until now, I thought that the only valid use of the iphone was taking shots of food with which to taunt your friends. I was wrong. Here is a barbecue sausage simulator, built to advertise the weiners of German sausage makers, Bell. Apparently, the barbecue is controlled by blowing into the microphone.

Download the app here, free and in German.

Manioc Chips


This label is a bit misleading - I thought it was referring to how the chips were made from manioc, which is a bit funny eh?
(I was almost disappointed to find out that Funny is the brand name)

The chips don't taste that great: salt, sugar, artificial additives and hydrogenated oil being the general vibe. Funny in the tummy.

Spicy Pony Head

"it is a lot of food huh"

Scroll down and listen

Thanks AB for playing this to me. I have been giggling to myself all week.

Modern Love & Peanut Butter Sandwiches

We've showcased potato-inspired modern dance on this blog before. Today I got to wondering: why didn't Merce Cunningham ever choreograph a dance about food?
(I'm not convinced his deli comedia piece is really about a deli).

The seminal avant-garde dance choreographer, who passed away on July 26, 2009, was the life partner of experimental music figurehead John Cage.

Cage may have had a very pleasing minimalist hot dog created in his honour, but he and Merce Cunningham were more into steamed fish and strange breads made from vegetable gruel than street meat.

Still, it seems they weren't mercenary about their macrobiotic diet. They carried peanut butter sandwiches in paper bags, stole mint-yoghurt dips when they weren't supposed to, and occasionally crash-dieted or binged on creme fraiche. According to this society article in the New York Times in '81, Cage would serve his favorite Scottish single malt whisky at dinner parties, in Japanese tea cups.

The two gents, known for their somewhat cerebral artistic creations, enjoyed baking cookies (see Cage's own recipes recipes here), eating surreptitious slices of chicken carried in Merce's briefcase, and doing modern dancing to handbag house at the age of 85.

One of Merce's dancers, who has a food blog, commemorated him with musings on grief-stricken quinoa salad and Top Chef Masters escapism and a recipe for ancho & guajillo enchiladas.

Gado Gado

is possibly my favourite Indonesian dish


It's a complete and healthy meal in one. This one had boiled egg, blanched kangkong and bean sprouts, rice cakes, potato, crispy green beans, tempeh, tofu and a lightly kaffir flavoured peanut sauce. Other Indonesian dishes tend to rely heavily on the presence of tasty sambals to "beef" up the flavour. And while I love sambals, if the sambals on offer are not good your whole meal is jeopardised. Of course you can also add sambal to this.

Disaffected Baked Fish

Today's electro youth aren't content with choreographing their own Merce Cunningham-inspired dance routines. They make it a signature to bake fish for their cats and hang around disconsolately in supermarkets trying to choose a flavour of UHT chocolate milk.
And other times they just feast on human carnage on the beach.

Food blogs often serve as a thinly veiled excuse to brag about one's travel experiences. This blog is no exception.

So last Wednesday I found myself bumping around the back of a four wheel drive for seven hours along logging roads in the district of Berau, Borneo, Indonesia on my way with a convoy of forestry officials, climate change experts and conservationists to visit a remote tribe of forest dwellers known at the Dayaks. We arrived after dark and were ferried across a river in traditional long boats to the village.


The Dayak's are traditionally hunter gatherers/ swidden agriculturalists and gold panners, dependent on the resources of the incredibly dense rain forest in which they live to survive.

After a quick bucket shower, we were treated to a meal of freshly caught mullet, fried fish, vegetables, rice and an incredibly hot sambal, prepared in this kitchen


by the Dayak's women folk


During the tribe's power point presentation to us (they may be remote and tribal but they sure ain't primitive) on their forest management strategies the male folk frequently referred to the forest as their "supermarket". I supposed that they were seeking to translate to us the abundance and utility that the forest provided them in ways they believed we would understand. Indeed, some of their household decorations attested to the fact that somehow, they managed to live in the forest


However, having already poked around the kitchen where the Dayak women prepared food, and having uncovered a large ice bin containing bags of processed sausages and chicken nuggets


it was patently obvious to me that the supermarket was also their supermarket, even if only in the advent of catering for large groups. Indeed, their remoteness did not seem to preclude them from a great deal of modern convenience. Although there was no electricity, there were generators. They had satellite tv and their children were all sent to the provincial town for high school education. The tribe had successfully established their own forest management committee comprised of local leaders, district government officials, logging companies and international conservation groups.

The next day I awoke to survey the village I had arrive to in darkness.


Cacao grew in the front gardens and piggies posed for me



After a breakfast of white processed bread, rice, chicken nuggets and fried eggs, we travelled for one hour by long boat through the forest and up the river to meet with a neighbouring tribe and learn more about forest management practices.


We were accompanied by this cool old guy who caught fish with a spear, and owned a poison blow dart (something that me and a good friend have decided would be of great use at our university)


After forestry discussions lunch was served.


Plain rice, fried eggs, eggplant and prawn crackers, sambal, salty duck egg, more sausages and chicken nuggets and some plain cabbage soup which we ate with our right hands. As we ate a family speed by on their long boat with dogs to go wild pig hunting. A tribal member speared a fish.

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