Kao Kang – Rice and Curry

Elmhurst’s Thai town has such cultural significance for Thai people in New York. It is a home away from home: a sanctuary consisting of authentic Thai food, friendly Thai smiles and a place where English is no longer the primary language spoken. Here, we aren’t just dining at a Thai restaurant. We are immersed into the unique culture, the ways of locals, and the essence of what it really means to be Thai. And this is essentially portrayed through the variety of restaurants and irreplaceable dishes offered.

Kua Gling is a southern Thai dry curry composed of traditional herbs and spices found in any Thai person’s kitchen. The herbs and spices in this dish – Lemongrass, shallots, kaffir lime skin, dry chilies, galangal, and of course, garlic – are sautéed with pork, beef, or chicken. Commonly eaten with rice, the rich flavor of this dish is exorbitantly hot and spicy, depicted by the intense chili stain on the grounded up meat. We can find this dish at Kao Kang. The name of the restaurant can be easily translated to “Rice and Curry,” and these types of restaurants are found almost everywhere in Thailand. The concept is simple: Food is already pre-made, and one simply just has to choose which dishes they would like.

In Food Inc., we are immediately thrown into questioning where the food we consume actually comes from. While I was at Kao Kang this weekend, I naturally paid more attention to the distinctive types of foods they offered and wondered where the restaurants at Thai Town bought their raw meat, spices, herbs, and sauces. The portrayal of meat and poultry on Food Inc. was particularly graphic. The images of the chickens, cows, and pigs getting slaughtered were so intensely embossed into my mind. To me, investigating further into the origins of where Thai Town was purchasing its raw meat was a conflicting notion. Did I really want to know where the meat of this chicken came from? Or would I have a better peace of mind from not knowing at all?

My reaction whenever I enter Thai Town always a positive one. Perhaps it is because I miss home, and a plate of Jasmine rice and Khai Paloh (Five Spice Stew) can cure all the cravings for my mother’s cooking. However, my most recent visit was different. As Kim Stringfellow writes in “Greetings from the Salton Sea,” about the juxtaposition of the “ethereal beauty of the sea” seen from a distance, and “the layered remains of bone fragments, barnacles, feathers, and rotting remains” seen upon close inspection, I similarly perceived Thai town in a similar way. While the ecology does give off affects that make me feel like I am home again…the deeper thought contemplating the origins of the food I am served makes me imagine a darker side of this place. Perhaps I have become quite cynical after watching Food Inc., or in other cases…I’ve just become more in touch with reality.



~ by yt668 on November 1, 2015.

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