Think Big Thoughts but Relish Small Pleasures

Think Big Thoughts but Relish Small Pleasures

I’ve always loved this quote by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Living in Thailand and being a teacher remind me to ‘Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures’ daily. For example…

Gorgeous floating flowers in pots.

Gorgeous floating flowers in pots

Seeing a pineapple plant grow

Seeing a pineapple plant grow

Accidentally happening upon a charming rooftop restaurant in Chiang Mai

Accidentally happening upon a charming rooftop restaurant in Chiang Mai

This graceful little flower known as anchan in Thai, butterfly pea in English, and scientifically as clitoria.

This graceful little flower known as anchan in Thai, butterfly pea in English, and scientifically as clitoria

Seeing the creativity of students' recycled art projects.

Witnessing the creativity of students’ recycled art projects

Hiking with this little cutie named Manee

Hiking with this little cutie named Manee

Noticing the 'Wintry' and 'Summer' settings on the hot water heater for a shower

Noticing the ‘Wintry’ and ‘Summer’ settings on the hot water heater for a shower

Having a little think by the lake

Having a little think by the lake

Finding a student's drawing of/for me

Finding a student’s drawing of/for me

Blatant copyright infringement

Hilarious and blatant copyright infringement

The exquisite mangosteen - edible art

The exquisite mangosteen – edible art

Cutting into a papaya, and finding a star.

Cutting into a papaya, and finding a star.

Students making a game out of weeding the rice

Students making a game out of weeding the rice field

Students ploughing like buffalo

Having fun ploughing like buffalo

...and playing with the plough

…and playing with the plough

The lotuses that bloom in the morning

The lotuses that bloom in the morning

The serenity of the ubiquitous Buddha images

The serenity of the ubiquitous Buddha images

Planting rice at Panyaden on Thai Mother's Day

Planting rice at Panyaden School on Thai Mother’s Day

After four years of living and teaching in Thailand, I have learned a few simple, but profound lessons:

Noticing what children and nature teach us is worthwhile. Pay attention. Be present. Think big thoughts, but relish small pleasures.

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Kanom – Thai Snacks

Kanom – Thai Snacks

Thai food is undoubtedly delicious. I could honestly write several books on the topic of food in Thailand, but I think that has already been done. I will focus here on a quintessential part of Thai food culture – kanom – snacks.

Thai people do not eat like most Westerners. First, all food is shared. Also, rather than 3 big meals, there are smaller breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but lots of snacking goes on all the time. Most of the kanom are fairly healthy. Though there are the fried varieties, the portions are small. It is nearly impossible to go out with a Thai person and not be asked, “You want su-nack?” then promptly offered one. When I learned the word kanom, I realized how often snacks are talked about, suggested, given, and eaten.

Here is a little photographic sampling of the mouth watering morsels I eat on a daily basis:

Let’s start with fruit (ponlamai) in its tropical abundance…

bananas (gluay), yellow mangoes (mamuang), dragonfruit, papaya (malako)

green mangoes (makmuang) and passion fruit (saurot)

papaya (malako)

Then there are the fruits that look like they come from another planet:

Rambutans

and the stinky cheese mixed with and garbage scented durian, which I actually think are good in small doses.

On to some of my favorites. I need to learn what these are called. If anyone reading this knows what any of the following snacks are called, will you please enlighten me? I’d love to know 🙂

These cute cooked coconut milk things called…? Side one…

…and side two.

leaf wrapped sticky rice delights called…?

More sticky rice thingies called….?

And a few I actually do know the name of:

Meankam…

Wrapped in a betel leaf, which is eaten, this is what goes inside meankam – dried coconut, lime, ginger, chilis, peanuts, onions, and dried shrimp. I have mine without the last two ingredients.

Due to the muslim influence of Southern Thailand – Roti (often spelled rotee):

Roti are a thin pancake that can be filled with either sweet or savory ingredients, or sometimes both. This was banana and egg topped with sweetened condensed milk. So good, better than it sounds.

This guy loved flipping and flattening the roti dough.

Then something not particularly Thai, but a scrumptious snack we get at school that may look more familiar to some of you:

a mini homemade fruit tart. Can you imagine this being a school snack in the US?

I should mention that students and staff are served an amazing homemade snack once in the morning, and once in the afternoon everyday at Panyaden School, where I teach.

Here are other kanom that I don’t see everywhere:

fried tofu served in a leaf bowl…

…with all the fixings.

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” in a wok naturally.

the cooked coconut milk things I love, and fried quail eggs, that I didn’t love that much

This is what it looks like when you snack with Thai people…

Kanom outside a wat…

…or at someone’s house – in this case, my yard. Small bits of grilled meat (not for me). I love som tom (spicy green papaya salad) with khao niow (sticky rice). Oh, and all the different kinds of spicy sauces and leaves to eat. Aroy! (Delicious!)

To wash it down…

Fruit shakes – always refreshing.

This is a minuscule sampling of snacks available in Thailand. More kanom to come soon…