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Mmm, that’s good oyster sauce!


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It’s not really very Thai to call people out on things that are embarrassing.

I’m sure that it must have happened like once or twice I said something kind of funny and my friends were like, “ha-ha,” they would laugh explicitly at me.

But my parents and people like teachers wouldn’t say anything generally.  They might correct me but they would never say anything or give me the actual definition of what I said.

There was one thing though that actually happened after I got back from Thailand and we were hanging out making some Thai food. And in the Thai language, any kind of liquid like soy sauce and fish sauce and things like that, they preface it with nam which is the word for water and liquid.  So fish sauce would be, like, nam pla and nam siew was soy sauce.

And so they have oyster sauce. And the word for oyster is hoi.  It’s the word for like any generic type of shellfish.  It also happens to be a very vulgar way to refer to female genitalia.  I see the analogy there, you know, but it’s a common word.  People use it and say it all the time.

But when they say oyster sauce they don’t say nam hoi, they say sauce hoi, and it’s because nam hoi is, well, the glib female genitalia.  Apparently by the time that I had made it bake to the United States I still had been calling it nam hoi.

So I can only imagine how many times I’d said that cooking in the kitchen with my host mother and she had just, you know, bit her tongue and didn’t say anything.  So, I say, “Oh my God!”

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a taste of Swedish food


Lots of fish — and I’m not a fish person but I ate fish. 

That’s where I learned to love yogurt.  And Swedish yogurt is much better than anything here in America.  Lingonberry sauce was really good.

They made some kind of sturgeon, and then my Swedish mother put mashed potatoes in the sturgeon and out the front and it browned on the top of it, and that was excellent.  I loved it.  Over there the ice cream is better, I believe.

French fries were a treat but I got them and I’d buy myself a big bottle of Coca-Cola once a week, and they didn’t like Coca-Cola.  That’s nasty stuff.  That was nasty stuff, but I could have it!

I learned to love Swedish apple pop — Pommac,  P-o-m-m-a-c.  And I sure wish I could find some ’cause that was good.  That was excellent.  I have had it once since I came home about ten years ago, and I haven’t been able to find it since.

They had another dish that was really good.  It was like hash called Pyttipanna diced roast beef and diced potatoes and I believe there was egg put into it.  And that was real good.  I liked that.  I wanted to have that quite often.

And there was a very fragrant sausage that was excellent too, and I don’t remember what kind.  But it was good with peanut butter and flat bread.  And they thought I was nuts ’cause I put peanut butter and sausage together but it was excellent.  It was good stuff.  Nice soft flat bread and smooth peanut butter on it and put this great sausage on the top of it.

Dang, that was like heaven!  It was wonderful!

I made a macaroni salad once.  And everybody liked it but my father.  He is not a fan of macaronis.  “I do not like macaronis but I will eat this because you made it.”

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Eating Chicken in Iran, 1964


English: Chicken in public market, Mazatlan, S...

Image via Wikipedia

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Iranians are very, very polite if nothing. 

I mean, just the essence of diplomacy and grace.  And so very few people were going to say anything that could ever be perceived as offensive.

There was one time that I remember though, when I must have surprised them.  They kept a few chickens out in the courtyard, and we would usually have a hard-boiled egg in the morning for breakfast, which I’m assuming came from those chickens as a rule.  Every now and then we would have chicken for dinner or lunch or whatever, and they served the chicken with the head and the feet cooked with the chicken as well.

And it was the guest of — oh God I still remember it — the guest of honor’s prerogative to have the head of the chicken.  Oh man.  So that was a little challenging to negotiate, and finally I just had to say, “I just can’t do this.”

It’s odd because as a child I grew up in the country, and we had chickens and we slaughtered them and ate them all the time.  But I guess I made some kind of comment about, “was this one of the chickens that had been out there?”

And then they started teasing me, and they would tease me unmercifully about did I feel the same way about breaking the eggs as I did about eating the chicken?  (Laughter)

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A taste of Hungary

Makos teszta - stock photoThe cuisine was very fried.  My favorite thing to eat was fried cheese.  We only had home-cooked meals on the weekends.  The rest of the time we ate bread, cheese and apples.  My host-sisters would cook something called “Makos teszta”  which I hated.  It was ground up poppy seeds and powdered sugar with honey on pasta.  Ick.