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Cooking for a Cause
By Emily M., YES Abroad 2016-2017, Thailand
Back in the fall, my school hosted a special day where all of the classes sold food or handicrafts to other students to raise money for class trips and other activities. My class decided to sell moo bing, or grilled flavored pork on a stick. I joined many of my classmates the day before to prepare the food.
As the final bell rang at 4:10, I walked out of school with Nokia, one of my best Thai friends, and we drove to her house. I love riding through the town and neighborhoods with my friends. The wind feels so refreshing through the hot sun that constantly beats down, and there is so much to see. People and shops blur together. The smells are intense; Thai noodle soup overpowers my nose one moment, and suddenly fresh fruit, or spicy papaya salad somtam, the next. We crossed the Nan River, and then turned near a large golden temple Wat Chedi to pull up to Nokia’s house. Chickens clucked at the neighbor’s house next door, and her dog curiously bounded up to us.
Over the next hour, more than half the class showed up to help prepare the food. Everyone brought food to share. There were spicy meatballs, rice puffs, Thai milk doughnuts, and ngoh (rambuktan fruit), just to name a few. Thai people love to eat, and for good reason. Their food is delicious! Once everyone arrived and had had a bite to eat, we walked outside to a banana tree in the open lot across the street and hacked off a couple giant leaves to serve the dishes on. Everyone laughed as Nokia’s dog jumped around trying to bite the end of the giant stalks as we waved them around like swords.
Back at the house, the food preparation began by making the flavor marinade. I got to smash up a bunch of garlic in the traditional wood mortar bowl with several other spices and sauces I couldn’t identify. Once blended, everything was added to a giant pot of thin strips. One of my braver classmates just plunged his hands in and mixed it all together. After that, we worked to slide the meat onto sharp wooden sticks to be grilled at school the next day.
There wasn’t much else to do, so we started grilling left over skewers and sticky rice. It was delicious! We sat around the little electric grill, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. Then, on our way home, my friends and I stopped at a special two week-long market by the river. My friends wanted to pick up more food, although I couldn’t understand how they weren’t already stuffed like I was. Even though I was full, the market still fascinated me. There were so many colors, sights, and smells. They dropped me off at home and I felt exhausted but happy. I chatted with my host mom and sister briefly, took a shower, and went to bed. I couldn’t wait for the next day.