Khao soi, where it all began

My “foster” parents, Ajarn Prasert and Ajarn Ying, introduced me and my project mates to khao soi—or “cut rice” in Thai, a Chiang Mai specialty with Burmese and Chinese Muslim influences—during my summer semester in Chiang Rai in June 2004. Ajarn Ying, who ran a small-time restaurant in Mae Sai, less than 300 metres from the very northern edge of Thailand, would often whip up her signature khao soi for us, the four girls, when we dropped by for daily meals during our one-month fieldwork stay in the frontier town. I was still new to Thailand then and couldn’t tell the nuances in Thai cuisine, but her khao soi was the most marvellous dish tasted during my time there—tangy noodles simmered in a thick red curry-and-coconut broth, with sliced shallots, lime and pickled mustard on the side.

I haven’t been able to taste such memorable khao soi since.

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Cracking an Indonesian snack

“Is it a mushroom?” Papa ventured as he munched on the cracker, a shrivelled mass of dark brown and black hues.

Mamy reached out for another cracker after having swallowed a couple. “It has a weird smell, like urine,” she said while concentrating on her iPad game.

Meanwhile, Papa was still very intent on guessing the cracker type. After several seconds, he finally said apprehensively, “It’s some animal flesh, right?”

“Yes,” I answered, casting an in-the-know look at Mr. P. We had just introduced this snack to my parents without telling them what it was. “So do you want to give up guessing?”

Both of them nodded.

*Drum rolls* (Stop reading here if you still want to guess what this cracker is made from. Otherwise, continue scrolling.)

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