when we went to see Carabao. On the way there Vut and I went to the Thai market in Virgnia to get some of the stuff I needed for the potluck. I was planning to make some of my favorites as well as dishes easiest for me to make with my limited know-how of Thai cooking 😉 My menu of Thai dishes for the day was –
Laab Gai or spicy Northern Chicken Salad with Mint
Gai Satay or grilled Chicken Skewers
Pad Bai Grapao or my personal favorite Spicy Basil Beef
….extra spicy please!
Goong Koa Supbrod or Pineapple Curry with Shrimp
Kaao Nieo or Sticky Rice
and of course a pitcher of Thai Ice Tea
At the Thai market we got most everything I needed, the basil and mint, limes and onions, cilantro and some beautiful Pril Kii Nuu Sii Deang our own firecrakers for the Fourth those little Thai chilli pepper bombshells 😛 I love to use the red chillies and purple onions in my Pad Baigrapao because it gives it lots of great color and I usually use about 10 chillis so it packs a kick believe me 😉
I was concerned to leave the stuff in a hot car all day at the concert so we left the groceries at Oops place when we stopped to pick up him and several of his friends going with us. That was the first sign of trouble. After the show Oop had to leave early for another concert that evening but we forgot to go back and get the groceries! How was I going to cook now? I had all the meat, chicken and shrimp at home already cut and prepared but I couldn’t make it without the veggies! We didn’t realize this until after we were on our way home but we worked out a solution. Vut will pick me up the next day and meet Oop at his place where I’ll cook everything, keeping my phobia in check for everyone and then we would all go to the park that afternoon where everyone will meet. Porblem solved, hooray!
Well, not so fast. Vut was bringing his table top grill so I grilled the Satays at home while I waited for him and then I could heat them up again on his grill at the park. I had everything ready to go when he got there at 2:30 and then he dropped his own bombshell on me. He had told everyone to meet us at the park at 3:30! There was no time to stop by Oops place to cook now! “What!?” What were we going to eat? Other than chips and soda was anyone else bringing something? Actually Tim and Tiffany brought some excellent sweet sticky rice and a dish of spicy marinated beef and veggies called Yum Neua that was quite excellent and spicy…perfect for me! But would it be enough to feed everyone that showed up?
Immediately I broke out in a sweat and started chanting “Mai Bpen Rai, Mai Bpen Rai, Mai Bpen Rai …..” what was I going to do with all this food I had halfway prepared?
Well, where there is a will there is a way. Vut did bring his table top grill so I grabbed everything I needed, pots and pans, cutting board and knives, everything but the kitchen sink and threw it in the car! Oop was bring the groceries to the park and by Julia Child I was bound and determined to cook so I’ll cook everything right there! Have I mentioned I am not someone to try and dissuade when I am set in my mind? Does the expression “force to be reckoned with” mean anything to anyone? 😀
Actually it could not have turned out better. Vut and I got to the park first and checked it out then unloaded the car. The park was small but perfect with an excellent view across the river of the Washington Monument and the fireworks later and plenty of room plus a nice little gazebo area with a concrete table and chairs just perfect for setting up my very own Thai vendor stall haha.
It was a bit hot so Vut and I were dripping in sweat by the time we got everything set up and the grill going. As everyone started to arrive I drafted Tim and Tiffany to help with getting the chillies, garlic and mint chopped and the basil picked and onion sliced and ready for me to ‘wok and roll’ sorry, could not resist that one. We farangs were doing all the work getting everything prepared while the Thai folk hung back and watched the action. I’m sure they were a bit bemused to see farangs running an outdoor Thai kitchen lol.
Vut and Oop checking out my pad bai grapoa technique while tiffany gets ready to snap pics of some of the action
We laid out some mats and once the food was ready and spread out everyone sat down to eat. I must admit I was really proud of myself to have pulled this off and everyone seemed to love the food so I was quite happy and after sampling everything I cooked and the food Tim and Tiffany brought I was quite full too 🙂
Everything complete and ready for our picnic, including the ants that Tim (at the far left) found himeself sitting on! Doesn’t everyone love Thai food?
After stuffing ourselves with food we needed some excercise so we played some games with my foxtail, that’s the ball and flag you see Tiffany twirling around in the pic below. Oop came up with this slightly complicated game to play with it kinda like a cross between catch, tag and dodge ball and I think the rules are made up as you go along too but it was great fun watching everyone play. I am have two left feet and hands so I decided to sit this out and do something I have more coordination doing like working the camera to take some pictures. I used everyones camera to take some shots and if I get them all together I’ll add then into a photo album on here for anyone interested to see them.
Tiffany at the wind up, and the pitch, hmmm who should be the first target?
As the sun went down and the park filled up with folks waiting to watch the night fireworks show we packed everything up and then headed out to the Key Bridge a few blocks away to watch the fireworks from over the Potomac River. Some of Oops friends were already there so we met up with them to ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ the 4th of July climax celebration (if you don’t count the kids in my neighborhood shooting off very loud fireworks of their own all night long 😉 I felt like I was at a ‘Hi-So’ photo op everyone had their camera out taking pics except me. I really got to get one of those someday. At exactly 9:10 the fireworks started to applause and cheers and lasted for a good 20 minutes. They had some new ones this year including some that looked I swear like giant exploding durians!
Me and Dew watching the fireworks unfortunately none were going off behind us the precise second the pic was being snapped
After the show we all as a group went back to the park to hang out and drank the last of the beers and Thai Tea while the traffic let out everyone going home. Some people may think how we celebrated the Fourth, as more of a friendly get together than a celebration of Americans Independece, as, well, un-American. I disagree I think the day with our Thai friends, no make that just my friends, is exactly what it was supposed to be.
America is a country for everybody and is built on the history of every American and person who has shared in it’s good and it’s bad and everyone that brings something to the table too which makes it a better America for everyone if nothing else than by understanding other cultures from around the world.
Whether your American or Thai, or any other race, nationality or culture everyone has a place here and everyone has an impact. We celebrate America by the simple act of choosing how we want to celebrate it, with the friends we choose or family or just quiet solitude and reflection of those since gone that gave us everything we have today. Do you hear history whispering to you? I bet the past says “here, this is what we left for you, this is the future and it’s up to you.” I bet in Thailand you can hear those same whispers from Thai ancestors as well. This is all we have and all the legacy we have to give the next ones in line to come along so let’s be sure to do it right for ourselves our people and culture. Take pride in being Thai and pride in being American no matter where you are and remember there is always room for everyone at the table.
Choke dee for now..