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My Culinary Journey My Culinary Journey
by Phantiwa Kongsiri
2013-01-26 11:10:24
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Ovi magazines welcomes Phantiwa Kongsiri, a researcher of Thai food and not only, most importantly a researcher of healthy food. So please do welcome her and keep your ...chopsticks ready for a series of food columns! 

I was seven when I started to help my grandmother cook, in a small jungle village in Isan. North-East Thailand far away from town.

The first recipe I learned was Nam Prik fish with chilli and salt made into a hot paste in a mortar. I also learned to fry vegetables with eggs. In the beginning I made many mistakes, always adding too much water, making everything into a soup. However, my grandmother never scolded me for my mistakes.


Later when I cooked better, my teachers invited me to cook for sale in a restaurant on Technology Day in Surin. My food was very successful. Everything was sold between 9 and 2 o clock which was a great success. I made grilled herb chicken, grilled herb fish, steamed sticky rice and papaya salad.

After graduation from high school I went to Europe, where three years later I got married. I lived in Hungary for six years where I met my husband. After we got married we travelled all over Europe and I had the opportunity to taste the food of different nations.

In Italy I tasted many pasta dishes, spaghetti and others, tasted their pork ham and pizza. Italians drink a lot of wine, and eat a lot of cheese too. In Croatia I learned the simple but healthy food of Croatians. The make hearty soups of beans and vegetables, with beef of chicken and they fry lamp or pig in the oven. They like to grill fish and sere it with fresh salad.

Hungary is a different matter. Hungarian cousins are much richer and they have many more dishes than the Italians or the Croatians. They have steamed, braised, boiled, simmered; stir fried, deep fried, marinated, salted, and smoked food dishes by the hundreds. In addition Hungarians established a cafe house culture with special drinks and small bites food centered around coffee and tea.

This is where I learned "pörkölt" a kind of thick spicy stew made of chicken, pork, beef or fish and generous with sauted onion and paprika. I learned the original Gulyas which is a soup made with beef, caraway seed, bayleaf, carrot, parley and fresh noodles. I learned Hungarian hot fish soup, the famous "Halaszlé" made with spicy hot paprika onion and fish. The fish can be carp, catfish, sturgeon, pike or a mix of all these. There are restaurants which specialize in Halaszlé! Then I learned the famous "pariks csirka" or " Chicken Paprika" it is a dish which appeals to everyone. Hungary is also famous for "stuffed Cabbage" "töltött Káposzta" which is cabbage leaves stuffed with ground pork, goose wing and leg, smoked pork rib, rice and spices, mostly black pepper, bayleaf and than cooked in a an earthenware pot on very low fire for 24 hours. This is best original version and there are tens of others. I travelled in many other countries like Germany, Austria and Slovakia and found something interesting everywhere.

I travelled with my husband to India several times where we stayed not only in hotels but in friend's houses too where I could learn the "secret or mother's" recipes of the wives. Indian vegetarian food is very sophisticated and the version őreőared in house is usually much more refined than the one served in restaurants.

We have a house in Istanbul and I had the opportunity to shop at the Istanbul food markets. They are incredible. I learned Turkish dishes from friends who own boutique hotels and restaurants and really know the best of Turkish food. I cannot elaborate on it here.

In my following articles I will take you on a culinary journey to the markets and foods of Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Transylvania, Turkey and India. But first and most I am a specialist a fan of Isan food. Isan food is robust, healthy and very refined at the same time. Isan people do not eat sugar; they eat simple but very healthy food. I believe this is what is most needed when restaurants offer tasty but often unhealthy food and when housewives often resort the precooked food and the microwave which is the most unhealthy thing.

We will go and see places all over Asia and Europe, the places, the people the food and we will explore the unique treasures of Isan food. I hope this will be an exciting and inspiring experience for you, and, at the end, you will step into the kitchen and try something great on your own.


     
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Alan2013-01-26 11:43:26
Great

Ready waiting lol


Thanos2013-01-26 16:29:15
Welcome Phantiwa! Definitely ready and looking forward. Perhaps - talking about healthy food - you should have a look at the ones suffering from diabetes. Their diet is very important and definitely should be healthy including a lot of vegetables.


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