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Phuket Food: Inspired – Re-think Thai desserts [VIDEO]

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Food: Inspired – Re-think Thai desserts [VIDEO] | The Thaiger
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PHUKET: A renaissance in the world of traditional Thai desserts has taken hold, away from the sand and seas of Phuket, in the heart of the province. Nestled in the center of the island, Ms Vachiraya “Yulie” Thitalohakul has turned back to her cultural heritage after years of working as a western-schooled patissiere.

With over a decade of experience as a patissiere in London, having worked for the JW Marriott Grosvenor House Hotel, The Crowne Plaza Hotel and 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel, Ms Yulie has teamed up with her sister Vachira “Yen” Thitalohakul from Tatonka Restaurant, as they rejuvenate the art of creating the multitude of Thai delicacies known collectively as kanom.

“We felt the availability of truly traditional Thai kanom was being lost in Phuket, and that local people, as well as expats and tourists were missing out on this unique aspect of Thai-food culture,” Khun Yen says as Khun Yulie starts to warm up a pan to demonstrate how to properly toast watermelon seeds for one of the specialty desserts. “We want to re-introduce a wide-range of tasty Thai treats that will reflect the tastes, textures, aromas and exotic colors of traditional Thai kanom.”

As Ms.Yen talks, Ms Yulie continues to create the different elements of a kanom known as “ja mongkut”. This is perhaps the most difficult and time intensive Thai dessert to make. And unlike most, which rely heavily on the use of coconut cream and coconut flesh, the base of these delicate creations is a tiny dough ball made of yolk, sugar and scented flour.

Kanom such as ja monkut and many others were once never seen beyond the palace gates. The source of the great diversity of these desserts in the Royal Household is often credited to Marie Guimar, a foreigner who, with as many as 2,000 women working under her, introduced the royalty of Siam to the pleasures of several Portuguese desserts that relied heavily on yolk and sugar.

“Over time certain kanom have become integral to the celebration of suspiciousoccasions, such as weddings and Buddhist ceremonies,” Ms Yen says.

Desserts that have names beginning with the Thai word for gold, “thong”, are thought to bring good luck, making desserts such as thong yip, thong yot and thonk ek very popular at weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.

Despite the heavy emphasis on rekindling and preserve Thai traditions, MsYen points out that many of the hand-made desserts they create have elegant, modern twists.

“We have many innovative and modern desserts for parties, coffee breaks and afternoon tea, as well as for gifts sets and other special occasions,” Ms Yen says.

The importance of presentation is not lost on Ms Yen or Ms Yulie. Laid out in a tiny box on the coffee table are four thuai talai kanom, made from steamed sweet coconut jelly and cream and molded into the shape of a flower, with pieces of fruit inside to provide complexity in the texture and taste of the dessert.

“We use whole grains and seasonal fruit to add texture, taste and nutrition to our kanom,” she explains, marking one of the many difference between the elegant desserts composed at Ms Yulie and those block kanom found at local markets.

A small bowl of toasted, candy coated water melon seeds appear near Ms Yulie as she then begins to roll small yellow dough balls between her palms.

“You have to be meticulous in every detail, from selection of good ingredients to patiently monitoring the creation process,” Ms Yen says.

Delicately, Ms Yulie lifts the tiny sugar coated water melon seeds, which now look like crispy snowflakes, and press the tips of them into the sides of the small yellow ball – creating a crown around the base.

Ms Yulie roles a smaller ball, and takes a then sheet of edible gold, twisting it and then pressing it onto the top of the dessert.

The dedication and effort in making just a single ja monkut, a dessert that would require dozens to create a plate at a party or even for afternoon tea, makes it seem sinful to gobble down the small sweet. However, knowing just how lucky and tasty a well-crafted ja monkut is, temptation wins out every time – as it always should when it comes to dessert.

Those interested in Kanom at Phuket desserts can place pre-orders with Ms Yulie or Ms Yen: 081-8934683, 082-8175472 or email Kanom at Phuket: kanomatphuket@gmail.com.

— Isaac Stone Simonelli

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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Thai Life

Thai Cabinet approves same-sex marriage bill

Jack Burton

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Thai Cabinet approves same-sex marriage bill | The Thaiger
PHOTO Gay Star News

The Thai cabinet has today endorsed a bill allowing marriage registration of same-sex couples, as well as legal amendments to ensure same-sex couples have the same rights and privileges as opposite-sex couples. The bill and the amendment will now be put to a vote in the Thai parliament.

The government’s deputy spokeswoman says the new Civil Partnership Bill and the amendment to the Civil and Commercial Code will “ensure fairness for people of all gender identification”. The bill defines civil partners as couples born with the same sex. Marriage registration will be available to consenting same-sex couples who are at least 17 years old. One or both must be Thai.

“The Civil Partnership Bill is a milestone for Thai society in promoting equality among people of all genders… This strengthens the families of people with sexual diversity and is appropriate for the present social circumstances.”

Minors who seek such marriage certification must have the consent of their parents, legal guardians or a court.

Spouses of civil partners will have the same legal rights as married husbands and wives, notably including with regard to personal and jointly-held property. Civil partners can adopt a child, or a partner can adopt an adoptive child of a spouse. When a partner dies, the survivor will have the same inheritance rights as conventional married couples under the Civil and Commercial Code. Sections of the code concerning married couples will also apply to civil partners.

The amended Civil and Commercial Code will prohibit a man or a woman from getting married if he or she already has a civil partner.

A man or a woman can face a divorce lawsuit if he or she treats someone else as a civil partner.

The Justice Ministry, which proposed the bill and the legal amendments, will monitor the effectiveness of the changes and plan other legal amendments to ensure compliance with those already enacted.

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Entertainment

Future of Bangkok’s iconic Scala cinema building uncertain after closing

Maya Taylor

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Future of Bangkok’s iconic Scala cinema building uncertain after closing | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Supanut Arunoprayote/Wikipedia

Cinema lovers and theatre employees are mourning the closure of Bangkok’s legendary Scala cinema after 51 years in business. The theatre was the last one to remain independent in the capital, amid an expanding landscape of multiplex cinema chains. Khaosod English reports that many Scala lovers turned out to bid farewell to the theatre prior to its final screening on Sunday evening.

The Scala’s lease ran out at the end of June and Chulalongkorn University, which owns the building, has not made any statement on what its future plans may be. For Phiboon Phorchaiyarach, who has worked as an usher at the theatre since 1981, the Scala felt like a second home.

“I feel sad. I’ve worked here since I was 21. I’m impressed every day I come to work, it’s like my second home for me.”

He recalls the Scala’s popularity in the early days of his career, mourning the death of the independent movie theatre in favour of modern technology.

“The theatre was always crowded. People lined up all the way to the downstairs to get their tickets punched. Nowadays there are CDs and mobile phones where everyone can readily enjoy what they want to watch. Coming to theatre is not a special moment anymore.”

The Scala belonged to the Apex chain of theatres, which also owned the Lido and Siam theatres. The Lido is now a multiplex and mini-mall, while the Siam theatre burnt to the ground in 2010 as political protests rocked Bangkok.

Nuphu Chayalat, a 63 year old concession stand worker, worked at the Lido for 18 years before moving to the Scala. She recalls watching her favourite films at the Scala, adding that one of them, James Cameron’s Titanic, drew huge queues.

The Scala was named after Milan’s renowned Teatro alla Scala and its first screening upon opening its doors on New Year’s Eve in 1969 was The Undefeated. Over the weekend, those visiting for the last time, were treated to screenings of a number of classic movies, including 1966’s Blow Up and CinemaParadiso, whose soundtrack composer, Ennio Morricone, passed away yesterday.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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Business

“Come and see” – Ministry invites diplomats to see coconut-picking monkeys in action

The Thaiger

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“Come and see” – Ministry invites diplomats to see coconut-picking monkeys in action | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Atlas Obscura

The monkeys, and the Thai government, are hitting back at accusations macaque monkeys are being exploited, even abused, and forced to pick coconuts for commercial farmers. Some larger western retailers say they’re going to pull Thai coconut products off their shelves after being lobbied by animal rights activist that the coconuts were picked by abused and over-worked macaque monkeys.

The Thai Commerce Ministry, coconut farmers and the “monkey school” trainers are dismissing reports, and a dramatic video from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal), that the coconut-picking monkeys are maltreated. So they’re organising a tour for foreign diplomats and the media to see the monkeys at work and decide for themselves.

The permanent secretary for commerce, responding to the reports, says the monkey owners don’t abuse or exploit the animals which have been “humanely trained” to pick coconuts. He has instructed attaches in foreign Thai embassies to provide an explanation to retailers in other countries who have expressed concerns and even instigated boycotts.

“The ministry is ready to invite foreign diplomats to visit coconut plantations and see how the monkeys pick coconuts so they will realise this is not animal cruelty.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Pramual Pongthawaradej, a Demo­crat Party MP for Prachuap Khiri Khan province, the Chair of a House subcommittee tackling falling coconut prices, says they’ve approached owners of coconut milk plants to justify their practices to PETA. They’ve also asked the Department of Agriculture to provide details regarding the use of monkeys to pick coconuts.

A video from Touronthai shows an operating monkey-school posted 4 years ago…

But Somjai Saekow, an owner of a monkey school which trains macaques in Surat Thani, says… “the practice of capturing monkeys from the wild to pick coconuts ceased a long time ago”.

“Currently, monkeys are bred and raised before being trained. They are not forced to pick 1,000 coconuts from trees everyday, and they don’t work every day.

“Coconut-picking monkeys are mostly males and their abilities vary. The owner of the monkey receives 2 baht per a coconut picked.”

“Foreigners may not understand our livelihood. Also, humans are not built to climb up a coconut tree to pick fruit. They will be at risk, compared to monkeys which have the natural ability to do so.”

An owner of monkeys in Surat Thani, denied the claims of poor treatment or abuse of the coconut-picking monkeys.

“There is no cruelty. Actually, they are looked after well. They are fed well with rice, milk, and fruit three times a day. They are treated like family members.”

PETA claims pigtailed macaques in Thailand were treated like “coconut-picking machines”.

“Following PETA’s investigation, more than 15,000 stores will no longer purchase these brands’ products, with the majority also no longer buying any coconut products sourced from Thailand monkey labour.”

PETA said it had found 8 farms around Thailand where monkeys had been forced to pick coconuts for commercial export.

“Male monkeys are able to pick up to 1,000 coconuts a day.”

“Other coconut-growing regions, including Brazil, Colombia and Hawaii, harvest coconuts using humane methods such as tractor-mounted hydraulic elevators, willing human tree-climbers, rope or platform systems, or ladders, or they plant dwarf coconut trees.”

“PETA went further by calling on “decent people never to support the use of monkey labour by shunning coconut products from Thailand”.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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