A Few Odds and Ends

2012 05 02 bangkok grocery nyc

Here are some items from the last several days that I wanted to point out, at least belatedly:

  • On Aung San Suu Kyi and reforms in Myanmar:

    The AP provides the context on Aung San Suu Kyi’s parliamentary swearing in today:

    Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in to Myanmar’s military-backed parliament Wednesday, taking public office for the first time since launching her struggle against authoritarian rule nearly a quarter century ago.

    The opposition leader’s entry into the legislature heralds a new political era in Myanmar, cementing a risky detente between her party and the reformist government of President Thein Sein, which inherited power from the army last year.

    Meanwhile, representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have an op-ed in today’s WSJ headlined “Burma’s Reform Is Still on Parole.”

  • On Chiranuch “Jiew” Premchaiporn:

    The AP says:

    A Thai judge postponed a verdict that had been expected Monday for a webmaster accused of failing to act quickly enough to remove Internet posts deemed insulting to Thailand’s royalty.

    Judge Nittaya Yaemsri said more time was need to process documents in the case, which has drawn global criticism because many see it as an assault on freedom of speech. A new court date was set for May 30.

    Here’s more from the Bangkok Post

  • On David Thomson and Bangkok’s Nahm restaurant:

    Australian Chef David Thompson’s restaurant here in Bangkok, Nahm, has come in at number 50 on the newest list of the “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.”

    (Previously at Here’s an earlier post on Thompson and the issue of foreigners cooking Thai cuisine. And here’s an audio slide show I made about Thompson in 2009.)

  • And finally, speaking of Thai food:

    Thanks to my good friend Dan S. for Tweeting the photo, above, of Bangkok Center Grocery in New York City.

    If you’re interested in the Thai language, you might like to know that the image prompted a a back-and-forth on Twitter, embedded below and on Storify here, about the establishment’s name and its spelling in Thai:

(Image: @NewYorkFitness.)

Thai politics Thailand

David Thompson, foreigners, and Thai cuisine


A much-discussed story here in Bangkok at the moment is this IHT piece about David Thompson, an Australian chef known for his cuisine at the Michelin-starred Thai restaurant nahm, in London. Thomspon recently opened a branch here in Bangkok.

The lede:

It’s been a rough year for Thailand. First there were the images of deadly street battles between soldiers and protesters beamed around the world. Then people living in neighboring dictatorships snickered that Thailand was a democracy in decline. Foreign tourists wondered whether it was safe to travel here.

And now this: An Australian chef has the audacity to declare that he is on a mission to revive Thai cuisine.

Can non-Thais really understand or appreciate Thai cuisine? Can foreigners actually cook authentic Thai food? Do they even know what “authentic” Thai food tastes like?

For a good summary of the media response to Thompson’s new restaurant, I suggest checking out this post at Siam Voices by Saksith Saiyasombut — whose father, as Saksith’s bio says, was a Thai chef for more than 25 years. The post is called “If you are farang, don’t meddle with Thai politics – or their food!”

I have followed this story with interest because, as you may recall, I put together an audio slideshow (embedded below) for CNNGo last year, when Thompson was in town to give a cooking demonstration.

For what it’s worth, I was impressed by Thompson’s knowledge of Thai cuisine — and culture — and did not find him to be brash in the least. He seems to have a genuine interest in sharing one of the world’s great cuisines with people. And that’s it.

(Emphasis mine.)

Photo credit: Austin Bush.


My CNNGo audio slide show about David Thomspon

You may recall my recent post about attending David Thompson’s Thai cooking demonstration here in Bangkok. I was there for CNNGo, a recently launched travel and lifestyle site that focuses on six Asian cities. ((In addition to the Thai capital, the site covers Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.))

I put together an audio slide show about the David Thompson event that you can find on the site here. And I’m embedding it below. Thompson talks about authenticity in cooking, what he finds appealing about Thai cuisine, and more.

If you have a look around CNNGo, you’ll also find a couple of my earlier contributions in the Bangkok section.

In one piece, I describe the best burgers in Bangkok. (( readers will recall that I’ve written about this before.))

And another item is called “The Siam Sunray: Chasing down Thailand’s ‘signature’ cocktail.” ((Again, this item may be familiar to readers.))


David Thompson at the World Gourmet Festival

With Thai food expert David Thomspon

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a lunchtime cooking demonstration by acclaimed Thai food expert David Thompson. Thompson wrote the well-known English-language cookbook Thai Food. And his London restaurant, Nahm, was the first Thai restaurant to receive a Michelin star. He’s in Bangkok as a featured chef at the 10th Annual World Gourmet Festival, held at the Four Seasons.

In the image above, which was snapped by Bangkok’s own foodie photog Austin Bush, I was helping Thompson prepare — and enthusiastically sampling — a chili paste to use in a khanom jeen noodle dish.

You can find more images, the recipe, and a thorough description of the event at this post on Austin’s site. ((By the way, Austin’s attending all of the WGF events and is food-blogging up a storm. Don’t miss this post, about last night’s dinner, which was prepared by Graham Elliot Bowles. Sadly, I didn’t attend that session.))