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Archive for April, 2012

Grow Wild the Laver!

Michael Babcock, Sunday, April 15th, 2012

On our last trip to Thailand, while browsing through the street market in Bangkok’s Chinatown, I came across a package of seaweed and bought it because of the writing on the package. Translation is fraught with perils and there are even websites devoted to “Engrish” – translations that are often too literal and inadvertently just do not work when translated into English.

Chinatown Market

Package is to the left

I found this translation oddly poetic, almost Zen. At times it seems to be asking questions. I’m going to first give my poetic rendering of it and then below that, give the words exactly as they appeared on the package. I’ve taken poetic license by changing some of the punctuation and some of the capitalization of letters

(Click images to see larger version.)

Two words require explanation.

  • Laver, according to the Dictionary on my Macintosh computer is “an edible seaweed with thin sheetlike fronds of a reddish-purple and green color that becomes black when dry. Laver typically grows on exposed shores, but in Japan it is cultivated in estuaries. • Porphyra umbilicaulis, division Rhodophyta.”
  • Kaifeng is “a city in eastern China, in Henan province, on the Yellow River; pop. 693,100. Established in the 4th century bc, it is one of the oldest cities in China.”

Grow Wild the Laver!

Grow wild the laver!
And choose the best laver
through done
with meticulous care
but
have no the sand.
Need not wash.

Can the oil or sauce namely eat?
If place in every kind
of
work well in the broth.
Its.

The taste is more
beau
tiful,
and the nourishment is
more
abundant.
Welcome taste!

For the keeping taste,
please
avoid the inso
lation,
lation,
to project light upon,
or
the heat affect
by damp and cold.
And Kaifeng
is not edible

Over,
please seal.
Completely.
Or
place in the refrigertor.
The best.


The Text

The actual text, click to make larger


When I first looked up the two words I didn’t know (laver & Kaifeng), I found that both, coincidentally, had a Jewish connection. Kaifeng is associated with the Kaifeng Jews, a small Jewish community that existed in Kaifeng for at least thousand years and dates back to either the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) or even to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) or earlier. (See the Wikipedia article on Kaifeng Jews.) And laver has a second meaning: “a basin or similar container used for washing oneself. • (in biblical use) a large brass bowl for the ritual ablutions of Jewish priests.” I just find it an interesting coincidence.

Here is the actual text as it appears on the package:

Grow wild the laver, and choose the best laver through done with meticulous care but,have no the sand need not wash.Can the oil or sauce namely eat, if place in every kind of work well in the broth, its The taste is more beau tiful, and the nourishment is more abundant, welcome taste. For the keeping taste, please avoid the inso lation lation to project light upon or the heat affect by damp and cold,and Kaifeng is not edible.
Over, please seal completely or place in the refrigertor the best.

Package Front

Front of laver package

Package Back

Back of the laver package


Written by Michael Babcock, 2012

Nakhon Si Thammarat “Dim Sum”

Michael Babcock, Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Dim Sum, in Thailand? On a recent trip to Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south of Thailand, we found a restaurant that serves delicious dim sum (though by a different name — see below). Like many southern Thai cities, Nakhon si Thammarat has a large Chinese (Chinese-Thai, more accurately) population. Dim Sum is widely available in another southern city, Trang. This was the first time we’ve found it in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Dim Sum Dish

One of the ‘dim sum’

The name of the restaurant is ตังเกี๋ย เเต่่เตี้ยม – Tang Gia Taa Tiam. The last two words, เเต่่เตี้ยม – Taa Tiam (phonetically, it is closer to Dtaa Dtiam) – are what the Hokien Chinese call these types of little dishes, rather than dim sum. The Hokien Chinese are from southern China; in Thai they are called Fujian. I will continue to use “dim sum” since that is what most westerners will relate to.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Thai Dim Sum Restaurant

Here's the restaurant

Restaurant Sign

Look for this sign

Menu

Menu, with Pictures

It was our Thai driver, Sun, who told us about the restaurant. He is from Nakhon Si Thammarat and hears about new things. My Thai is not good enough to tell you exactly where the restaurant is. I do know that it’s in a newer district of town called Meuang Tawngmeuang meaning city and tawng meaning gold. I’ve included on our website proper a pdf file with the address in Thai – it opens in a new window and you can right click to download for printing. I’ve also got a jpeg file that includes the restaurant sign and name, also suitable for printing.

The menu is pretty extensive here: there are nearly 100 items. They are particularly known for their pork soup, so we recommend you definitely try that one. Otherwise, just look at the pictures, see what looks good and give it a try.

I’ve included a slide show of most of the items we’ve eaten there over our visits.


Taa Tiam (Dim Sum) Slideshow

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.
Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

nst-dim-sum-09
nst-dim-sum-10
nst-dim-sum-11
nst-dim-sum-12
nst-dim-sum-13
nst-dim-sum-14
Dim Sum Dish
nst-dim-sum-17
nst-dim-sum-18
nst-dim-sum-19
nst-dim-sum-20
nst-dim-sum-21
nst-dim-sum-22
nst-dim-sum-23

The aftermath of a great meal!

nst-dim-sum-09 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-10 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-11 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-12 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-13 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-14 thumbnail
Dim Sum Dish thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-17 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-18 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-19 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-20 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-21 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-22 thumbnail
nst-dim-sum-23 thumbnail


Inside the Restaurant

You can eat inside . . .

Outside the Restaurant

. . . or outside.


Written by Michael Babcock, March 2012