Mr. P: “It sure looks like you. Eyes of uneven sizes, a flat nose, a big mouth… Oh, and the sparse hair too.”
Sometimes husbands do say the darndest things.
Despite its Vietnamese origin, naem nueng (Vietnamese fresh spring roll) is Udon Thani’s most famous food export. While Vietnamese immigrants have been moving to Thailand’s Mekong River provinces since the French colonial years, the region, or, specifically Udon Thani, isn’t famous for naem nueng until the recent decades. Word has it that a group of Vietnamese descendents, who originally settled in Nong Khai, made famous naem nueng in Thailand when they opened a restaurant selling this specialty in neighboring Udon Thani.
2012 began on a slightly unusual note for me: the New Year marked my virgin attempt in cooking for Mr. P’s family in Udon Thani. My mum-in-law has heard about my new-found interest in the kitchen—Mr. P was always telling her of our homemade concoctions—so she requested to taste my cooking. Cooking a Chinese dish was a much safer option as the folks would not have any basis for comparison, as opposed to, say, som tam. I decided on bak kut teh because its thick, peppery broth is most likely to satiate Thais’ strong flavours-inclined palates.