Thai food was my gateway to cooking. I was traveling to Los Angeles frequently for work and discovering the pleasures of wildly spicy and tangy laap, the pan-fried noodle flavors of pad kee mow, and the sweet relief of creamy Thai tea. The flavors sang, intense and heightened — all new to this Midwestern girl.
Back home I had a friend, Joe, who was Thai and who brought curries and noodle dishes to weekend dinners with friends. It was Joe who offered me my first glimpse into how these dishes were built. It was tantalizing and fun — a delicious way to understand what my Thai, Indian, and Chinese friends wanted to eat; and how, ultimately, one dish, like green curry, can be something new that wakes you up, then something that you learn by teasing it out like a knot, and then, after you've learned it by heart, continues to be a point of connection that ties you with your past and your present.