“Waneer dink jy het hy n sy gerword?” South African Tatum translates the question I asked her just seconds ago. “ I think he became a she a long time ago ‘cause she seems very comfortable in her own skin!” I reply to my own question.
Her name is Aim. Her eyebrows are perfect and she moves her hips in a more feminine way than I do. Every time we add oil to the wok, she tells us to circle along with our hips while stirring. “ Sexy!” she shouts out excitedly. The word of the day, which really kicked off about an hour ago…
Hmmm you’re actually quite cute for a Thai guy! I think to myself when greeted at the farm by a guy with the not so typical Thai features. I know I’m not supposed to say or think this, but come on! Be honest we all have a type that we fall for. I find myself attracted to tall athletic caucasian men with strong square jaws, and well Thai guys (let’s face it…boys) are generally speaking two sizes smaller than I am, have feminine features and look like they’ll tip over at the slightest touch. So yes, I was happily surprised to see this cutie.
Didn’t come here for the men though, I came to cook!! Yes, that’s right- I, Monique, came to cook! No one forced me, I am not receiving any incentives (besides the yummy food) and I even got up early to be here. My former roomies, some friends and family know me as the girl that burns stuff. A lot! Years ago, my good friend Astrid bought me a sign as a housewarming gift saying “ I kiss better than I cook”. I always say that I hope this is true or else I’m in big trouble haha. Maybe after today I’ll be able to take the sign down?? Who are you kidding Mo?!
Back in college I managed to burn a pot of soup. I was talking on the phone with a guy I liked and well yeah completely forgot about my ‘food’. Another shiny moment in the history of ‘Cooking- Mo’ was when the Spaghetti strings got stuck to the roof of the pan. You know, when you’re supposed to shake it, pour the water out while putting the Spaghetti in a sieve?! Couldn’t do that! It was absolutely impossible. Years later my former roomies let me in on a little secret. Turns out that all the times my meals actually came out edible, was because of them. Whenever I had once again walked away from the stove, they took turns adjusting the temperature and stirring the food. No surprises here…this happened frequently!
“ Massaman!”….. “Massaman, Massaman!!!” slowly and from afar as in a dream, the words enter my brain, making me realize that Aim’s screechy voice is directed at me. Quickly I stop fumbling with my camera and add the diced ingredients to the mix to make my own Masseman curry paste. She’s right, I shouldn’t be messing around with my equipment. Honestly though, I don’t reaaaaallly care about the cooking course. I just like doing new stuff and I am enjoying the photography and filming part a lot more than the slicing and dicing. Nevertheless, I get back with the program and pound the spices in the Hammam bowl as if my life depends on it.
“These spices are sweet and sexy, just like us Thai people”. Aim tells us playfully tilting her head to the right and swaying her hip to the left. Spices in one hand, pushing her hip away with the other. I beg to differ, I grin to myself, but her confidence and pizzazz is appealing! “ The more spices you add, the sexier you are. So how sexy are you going to be today?” she asks us.
Holy cow those are a lot of scoops! The Korean ladies seem to be feeling damn sexy today!! I look to my right and see that the Spanish girls are a bit more hesitant. Dunno how many scoops Tatum added but I’m sure it’s more than I am going to put into my dish. On today’s sexy scale I’m definitely and deliberately on the freezing end of the spectrum.
“ One scoop is the kindergarten equivalent of spicy, two scoops is high school, and three is college” Aim explains after all of our curry pastes are pounded and ready. “ You can go allllll the way up and get a master in spicy Thai” she says while adding more of the paste to the vegetable mix. Hmmm alrighty then, I’m gonna go with the preschool version! No such luck. She basically forces us to at least be at college level spicy, resulting in me almost choking when trying my own dish. I’m such a sissy!
At the end of the day I get to bring home non spicy coconut soup (she didn’t force me on that one, pfiew!), non spicy Pad Thai and one very, very spicy Masamman curry. I’ve always been a whimp when it comes to spices, but at least I’ve tried a lot of the spicy dishes out here and will continue to do so. A few years ago my best friend and I cooked up this saying “Als je het niet geprobeerd hebt, dan weet je het ook niet”, Roughly translated: “ You’ll never know unless you try”. So yeah, I’m building it up Mo-style, keeping it on the safe end with some things and going all out with others. Looking at pushing a few more boundaries weeks to come and stepping out of my comfort zone. Keep you posted ; )