Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Scent of green papaya

I made papaya salad for dinner tonight, made from a Thai recipe book we were given when we took part in a cookery class in Chiang Mai last year. Thai food always looks complicated on the page, but once you have all the essential ingredients - fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves which you can freeze, dried shrimps which you can also freeze, palm sugar which lasts an age, fresh chillis, coconut milk and more - it's a doddle to mix everything together.

I peeled and grated the raw, green papaya we had bought from Oriental City on Saturday and set aside in a big bowl. I roughly blended together four cloves of garlic, six small green chillies, two diced long beans, a teaspoon of palm sugar and two tablespoons of dried shrimp and added the mix to the grated papaya. To this I added three tablespoons of fish sauce, four tablespoons of fresh lime juice and one large chopped tomato. Then I gave it all a thorough stir. While I had been preparing all this I had roasted a handful of peanuts in the oven. Now I took them out, picked off the skin and added them to the papaya salad. We ate it with some left over chicken from last night's roast dinner.

While we were eating, M humoured me with tales of people he shared a Tube journey with. I laughed as he told me about the young student couple sitting side by side, their fingers entwined, discussing in very lethargic, monotonous voices a range of topics from the Iraq War and global warming, to the rights to protest outside Parliament and developing country debt. M listened in along with half the carriage and then overhead one young office worker opposite them look at her friend - another young office worker - and say, "All we ever talk about is the telly." To which her friend replied, "Or what to have for dinner"!

Afterwards, we watched Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Blissfully Yours - a mesmerising, impressionistic love story set along the Thai-Burmese border during which time stands still and nothing much happens but so much is experienced.

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