Sawat Dee Krub!
So great that you’ve made it to Thaifooding
A process which includes, but not limited to, any of these actions:
Finding something to eaturban DICTIONARY
Finding a place to eat
Picking something to eat
Picking a place to eat
Waiting for food
Eating the food
My name is Yuval and I’m the author of ‘Thaifooding’.
The origin of my name can be traced back to the old testament. Yuval or Jubal is mentioned in the book of Genesis chapter 4 as the “ancestor of all who played the harp and flute” a brother to Jabal “ancestor of all who live in tents and raise livestock” and a half brother to Tubal Cain “forger of all instruments of bronze and iron”. Together the three brothers span the archetypes of human occupations. It is believed that Jubal’s occupation symbolizes not just music, but arts and science altogether. The noun Jubal is then mentioned again in Jeremiah chapter 17. This time the meaning is a stream of water. I’m cool with both meanings:) as both describe me quite well. Nature, science, and art are probably the main sources of inspiration for a lot of the things I like doing, and cooking Thai is no exception.
Why Thai food? Well, it all started 25 years ago when I decided to go backpacking in Southeast Asia. On the plane I briefly scanned my Lonely Planet guide, to gather a few tips about ground transportation and how to get around in Bangkok. We’ve landed and taken a taxi to our hotel on Silom street. We didn’t know what to expect and knew that we would soon be moving to the Khao San area, so booked in advance a room in Narai hotel to ensure a soft landing, the hotel was nice. An hour later we got downstairs ready to tour the city. We just exited the hotel lobby when a few tuk-tuk drivers approached and asked where we were going. We got onto one of the tuk-tuks after giving the driver explicit orders to take us to Khao San. Ten minutes later we were reluctantly brought into a fabric shop where a few guys wearing turbans did their best to sell us suits. I played nice, but switched to my ready for attack mode:) Eventually, we’ve refused politely to purchase a suit and hopped onto the tuk-tuk expressing our dissatisfaction. The driver then told us that right around the corner there’s a sleeping Buddha temple, a local attraction that we must see. By then he’s lost all credit but we didn’t have much choice. We got off the tuk-tuk and went to peek into the temple, it was nice and a couple of minutes later we headed back to the tuk-tuk still hoping to get the agreed-upon ride. We were abandoned by the driver who’s lost patience after failing to collect a commission in the fabric shop.
While this had been my first experience in Thailand, nothing in the next 25 years has been quite like it. Thai people have proven again and again to be the nicest people.
So let the adventure begin… The thing that had captured my attention first was the plethora of exotic fruits, I especially recall the fire red rambutans with their spiny strange appearance and wonderful taste.
As a first-timer to Thailand in the 1990s, with no internet, everything was new, unique, and surprising. Experiencing Thai food was no different. Back then there were probably very few Thai restaurants outside of Thailand and to that point I hadn’t been to one. I literally knew nothing about Thai food and had very few expectations.
But I was curious to try local food. In the beginning, I played safe and dined in the hotel’s restaurant, or in other tourist-friendly spots. Nevertheless, even in the more touristy eateries, the food was exotic, unexpected, and often left me jaw dropped. I remember ordering a ‘Tom Kha’, I certainly didn’t know the name and probably picked it because it was served in a coconut shell, which I’ve seen for the first time. It tasted really good but so different. Then I started digging out things, a woody white piece that was too hard to chew on and tasted like a detergent, I now know it was galangal. Then there were a few green spheres that looked like peas, we typically put a few more in soups I thought… a bite, that’s not a pea! it’s bitter and a bit sweet with a gazillion of tiny seeds. It kept going on and on. I had no idea what was in the food, but I absolutely LOVED how it tasted.
I loved everything about being a backpacker in Thailand and gradually as my trip unfolded I tried more and more foods. Pad Thai was kinda nice, but I liked ‘Tom Yum’, ‘Guay Tiew Nam Tok’, ‘Som Tum’, ‘Pad See Ew’, and ‘Gaeng Kiew Wan’ way better.
Fast forward a few years. This was the era of proliferation of Thai restaurants alongside scarcity of authentic flavors, sometimes due to lack of reference, other times due to shortage of crucial ingredients but more often than not, because of a choice to appeal to the less accustomed taste palette of ‘westerners’.
I had to do something about my passion for the real flavors of Thai food, the food that I had tasted for the first time in Thailand. Nothing at home tasted like it.
I decided to embark on a quest to unveil the secrets of Thai cuisine, so I’d be able to cook it and enjoy it with family and friends. This has been and still is a remarkable journey, I keep coming back to Thailand, I’m seeking opportunities to learn from chefs, scholars, and street food vendors. I source and grow authentic Thai ingredients and I keep learning and perfecting my cooking.
In recent years I’ve decided to alter my diet and make all effort to cook and eat plant-based foods. I became a bit of an advocate for the benefits to earth and its inhabitants.
I soon realized that one of the major mental blockers people have when considering a plant-based diet revolves around the perception that a plant-based diet is an arid land of dissatisfying salads, pale vegetables, and grains.
With that in mind, I had made a resolution to make my favorite cuisine as plant-based friendly as possible and make the knowledge available to everyone. The recipes are based on authentic and traditional Thai references, some ingredients are replaced with acceptable plant-based ones. I believe that after eating my plant-based Thai food you would have more confidence to switch to a better diet while enjoying some of the more exotic and tasty food on the planet.
What’s in the blog
I believe that Thai cuisine is among the best cuisines in the world and possibly at the very top of that list. It is also extremely diverse and sophisticated as it has been shaped through multiple regional, historical, ethnic, and cultural influences. The abundance of ingredients further adds to the diversification and depth of this kitchen. In the blog, I try to cover as many aspects of this cuisine to put things in context and enrich your knowledge, so expect to find information about the heritage as well as ingredients, how to gradually put together a Thai pantry, and of course cook authentic dishes. All the recipes I post are dishes that I’m cooking and taking photos or filming, to illustrate the process and the result. To keep things fun and contemporary I weave in experiences such as restaurants I visit, fun activities like foraging, and more. Naming wise I try to address ‘things’ in English but also mention the Thai term and sometimes lead with Thai when it’s awkward to give something a much less common English name.
So, if you find this intriguing and want to master Thai cuisine, start following this blog and join me in this journey, I promise it would be a joyful one!