Kin Khao Kan – กินข้าวกัน – Let’s Eat Together
Kin Khao Rue Yang – กินข้าวหรือยัง – Have you eaten yet? This is the warmest greeting in Thai culture. It is used like “how are you?” in other cultures and is an everyday practice for greeting family members, friends, neighbors or a visitor who happens to walk by or to your kitchen door. Thais bond strongly over food and a shared community-rich hospitality. When I visited home last November I hardly ate alone. One day I visited Khun Taeng, the head chef at the Kamala School in Phuket, a primary and secondary school that was destroyed by the 2004 tsunami,o but has since been rebuilt. She greeted me in just this way to welcome me back after a long absence. It has been since 2011 that I had spent time in her kitchen savoring Thai Spicy Stir-fried Seafood with Yard Long Bean. First she said, “When did you return home?” then “Kin Khao Kan – กินข้าวกัน – Let’s Eat Together.”
Home sweet home! This time at the Kamala School, I joined a few teachers that I have known over the past 11 years. Kin Khao Kan – กินข้าวกัน – Let’s eat together! I was very happy to do this. Khan Taeng is an amazing head cook. She cooks for hundred of students, providing authentic dishes that are true to the original flavors of mom’s home cooking. I learned a long time ago that everyone at the school loved spicy foods, and one dish always has many spices. The lunch menu was my favorite famous Thai dish: Stir-fried Catfish with Red Curry Paste and Basil served with jasmine rice and a clear soup with noodles, mushroom and loofah.
While sharing lunch, I was glad to learn that many students from the past 11 years had moved on, continuing in higher education, and having such adventures. It had been long since I had been there, cooking with friends and family; perhaps, it seemed, this was a time for me to bond with the new students who live at the school. Currently there were almost 200 of them. By the end of our lunch and conversation, I was glad that I would able to spend more time with the students for lunch the coming Sunday. Because the number of students had outgrown my ability to organize such a feast, I would not actually be cooking, just hosting and serving a meal instead. I was also hoping that my soon-to-arrive guests from the United States would also be able to join me.
My guests arrived and two days later they joined me in contributing to and serving lunch to Kamala School’s resident students. Before enjoying each meal, students pay appreciation for foods and thank you to the farmer, caretaker, the cooks and everyone who is a part of contributing to the meal. After serving, we spread out and sat down among the students and ate together. Food-sharing and bonding is a way to build our community and to learn the culture up close and personal. It is simple cycle of eat, love and give. This time we spread the love across the globe at the school dining table. I cannot wait to see everyone again in March 2016. Kin Khao Kan Eek – กินข้าวกันอีก – let’s eat together again.
Thank you to my many students from Seattle, tour members and friends that have given your support to the school. As a result, the school has been able to accept more students and to meet their larger needs for education and a home.
If you visit Phuket and would like to contribute towards education or food, your group is welcome to create and share a culinary experience with the students. Please contact Kamala School.
Baan Kamala School a.k.a 36th Rajachaprachcanogroh School Phuket
Kamala Beach Road, Kathu District, Phuket 83120, Thailand
Telephone (076) 279 293
Give Back to Phuket: http://www.phukethasbeengoodtous.org
Below are Pranee’s Recipes of the dishes mentioned above and some that has been served and enjoyed at Kamala School.