Friday, October 16, 2009

World Food Day

Today is World Food Day. I like to think that every day is World Food Day at True Thai Restaurant. It is not just Americans who borrow food from other countries.

True Thai is perhaps best known for its curries, but I have to admit that India invented curry first. Thailand just made it better, and Japan helped.

Japan? Now I know you are curious because the Japanese are not exactly famous for their curries. But kabocha squash originated in Japan, and so True Thai must share credit for our Red Curry with Kabocha Squash (#F) with Japan, as well as India.

Wikipedia also gives Laos co-credit for Panang curry (#32). And while most people do not think of Thailand as a Muslim country, our Masaman curry (#31) is very, very Muslim. Masaman curry has many Middle Eastern ingredients (cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, cloves, nutmeg) and the cardamom often comes from India or Mayalasia. But the potatoes (Peru), peanuts (Latin America), and bay leaves (Asia Minor) are anything but Muslim.

And that is just our curries! Here are some other True Thai items that did not originate in Thailand:
  • Curry Puffs (#A): Malaysian/Singaporean/Thai
  • Sweet Purple Yam (#B): The Philippines
  • Plum Sauce (many dishes/dipping sauces): China
  • Egg Rolls (#2 & #3): China
  • Spring Rolls (#4 & #5): Vietnam
  • Satay (#6): Java
  • Imperial Fried Wontons/Wonton Soup (#7 & #17): China
  • Tofu (many dishes): invented by the ancient Chinese and then immediately "borrowed" by every other Asian country
  • Deep-fried foods (many appetizers): European and brought to Asia by the Portuguese
  • Fried rice (many dishes): China
  • Iced tea and coffee: France
So you see, every day really is World Food Day at True Thai. We even have food that is American in origin!

Well, OK, one item that is partly American. Imperial Fried Wontons (#7) with cream cheese. Cream Cheese was invented by an American dairyman from New York in 1872. His name was William Lawrence and to this day nutritionists hiss when they say his name. As a Public Health Nurse I cannot argue with them.

Cheese is very un-Thai. Cream cheese is very very un-Thai, but cream cheese wontons are very popular.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old-fashioned chicken wings, True Thai style

A friend just forwarded me a funny story about chicken wings from the New York Times. Many restaurants are now selling "boneless" chicken wings. The funny part is that they are not chicken wings at all, but "a little chunk of chicken breast that is fried and sauced."

Chicken wings are messy to eat and the cheaper ones have little meat on them. That is why they have traditionally been very inexpensive. But because they have been so cheap, restaurants have worked very hard to make them tasty. We have them in our lunch buffet every day, and some customers fill up their plates with just wings and sauce. Hey! Vegetables are good for you, too!

I think restaurants have been too successful at promoting chicken wings. Wings now cost more than chicken breasts! If that were not true, no one would be selling fake "boneless chicken wings." Not that this is a new thing. One famous chain whose name I will not mention calls their batter-fried boneless pieces of chicken "nuggets."

I do not think True Thai will be selling boneless chicken wings any time soon. We are very happy with the jumbo chicken wings we get from our suppliers. Our "Yummy" wings are covered with a delicious house sauce, and our "Fried" wings come with a spicy chili dip. Our wait staff can always bring you a finger bowl and a towel if you find the sauce to be a little messy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Anna the Public Health Nurse blogging today, reminding you that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

One of my relatives in Thailand came home one day and her dog jumped up on her, scratching her breast. She went to her doctor and while treating the scratch he discovered she had breast cancer. She was lucky. Thanks to her dog her cancer was found early and she responded well to treatment.

Not everyone is so lucky. Early detection is your best defense against breast cancer but as Americans like to say, sometimes the best defense is a good offense.

You are less likely to get breast cancer if you:
  • don't smoke or use any kind of tobacco products
  • limit your alcohol intake
  • maintain a physically active lifestyle
  • watch your weight
  • avoid menopausal hormone therapy
  • avoid certain foods
A healthy diet is important. Cancer experts suggest eating no more than four ounces of red meat a day, and avoiding processed meats (bologna, sausage, etc.) entirely. Non-starchy vegetables and fruits are good. Sweetened drinks and juices, desserts, candies, refined breads and chips are not so good. [link]

Thai dishes have lots of ingredients that are thought to help fight cancer. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, chili peppers, kale, garlic, mushrooms, nuts, oranges, papayas, tofu, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes are all thought to be helpful. Turmeric, which is found in most kinds of curry, has also gained a reputation for its cancer-fighting qualities.

Anna could have opened a hot dog stand or a pizza parlor, but why? Why go to the trouble of preparing unhealthy food when there are so many healthy dishes that taste good and are good for you?

Once people have Thai food, it seems they are hooked for life. And, if they keep eating Thai food, that might be a very long life indeed. Don't forget that Anna's great grandmother Mai lived to be 107 years old! In Thailand, even our desserts are healthy!

Share the secret to long life with all your friends, especially the ones who eat hot dogs.