Tuesday, May 26, 2009

To cream cheese or not to cream cheese

Then, before the opening, the inevitable dark dilemma: To cream cheese wonton, or to not cream cheese wonton? "For many nights I laid awake, tossing and turning, tossing and turning," says Prasomphol Fieser. "We have no cream cheese in Thailand. I am tossing and turning, tossing and turning. Finally, at the last minute I decided yes! Because kids come in just for that. So I do it for the children."

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, City Pages

When this review came out in 2003 some of my friends teased me about this part. They thought it was silly of me to agonize over whether to allow cream cheese wontons into my restaurant or not. I still do not think it is funny. Thailand is a hot country and there is no tradition of eating a lot of dairy products. This is in fact one of the reasons why Thai food is not fattening!

ThaiTable.com says this:
I love good cheese. However in Thai food, there is no milk, cheese or butter. All calories add up. Coconut milk is perhaps the Thai analogue to dairy, but coconut milk is not nearly as prevalent in Thai food as cheese, butter or cream are in western foods. Ask most western chefs: what's the secret ingredient that makes people love a dish? Butter. What makes western desserts good? Butter.
But the Thai also have a very strong tradition of making their customers happy. Can you get cream cheese wontons in Bangkok or Phuket? I don't think so. But have cream cheese wontons made a lot of True Thai customers happy over the years? I know so.