Grow Wild the Laver!

On our last trip to Thailand, while browsing through the street market in Bangkok’s Chinatown, I came across a package of seaweed and bought it because of the writing on the package. Translation is fraught with perils and there are even websites devoted to “Engrish” – translations that are often too literal and inadvertently just do not work when translated into English.

Chinatown Market
Package is to the left

I found this translation oddly poetic, almost Zen. At times it seems to be asking questions. I’m going to first give my poetic rendering of it and then below that, give the words exactly as they appeared on the package. I’ve taken poetic license by changing some of the punctuation and some of the capitalization of letters

(Click images to see larger version.)

Two words require explanation.

  • Laver, according to one dictionary, is “an edible seaweed with thin sheetlike fronds of a reddish-purple and green color that becomes black when dry. Laver typically grows on exposed shores, but in Japan it is cultivated in estuaries. • Porphyra umbilicaulis, division Rhodophyta.”
  • Kaifeng is “a city in eastern China, in Henan province, on the Yellow River; pop. 693,100. Established in the 4th century bc, it is one of the oldest cities in China.”

Grow Wild the Laver!

Grow wild the laver!
And choose the best laver
through done
with meticulous care
have no the sand.
Need not wash.

Can the oil or sauce namely eat?
If place in every kind
work well in the broth.

The taste is more
and the nourishment is
Welcome taste!

For the keeping taste,
avoid the inso
to project light upon,
the heat affect
by damp and cold.
And Kaifeng
is not edible

please seal.
place in the refrigertor.
The best.

The Text
The actual text, click to make larger

When I first looked up the two words I didn’t know (laver & Kaifeng), I found that both, coincidentally, had a Jewish connection. Kaifeng is associated with the Kaifeng Jews, a small Jewish community that existed in Kaifeng for at least thousand years and dates back to either the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) or even to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) or earlier. (See the Wikipedia article on Kaifeng Jews (offsite, opens in new window).) And laver has a second meaning: “a basin or similar container used for washing oneself. • (in biblical use) a large brass bowl for the ritual ablutions of Jewish priests.” I just find it an interesting coincidence.

Here is the actual text as it appears on the package:

Grow wild the laver, and choose the best laver through done with meticulous care but,have no the sand need not wash.Can the oil or sauce namely eat, if place in every kind of work well in the broth, its The taste is more beau tiful, and the nourishment is more abundant, welcome taste. For the keeping taste, please avoid the inso lation lation to project light upon or the heat affect by damp and cold,and Kaifeng is not edible.
Over, please seal completely or place in the refrigertor the best.

Package Front
Front of laver package
Package Back
Back of the laver package

Written by Michael Babcock, 2012

Restaurant Travel

Nakhon Si Thammarat “Dim Sum”

Dim Sum, in Thailand? On a recent trip to Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south of Thailand, we found a restaurant that serves delicious dim sum (though by a different name — see below). Like many southern Thai cities, Nakhon si Thammarat has a large Chinese (Chinese-Thai, more accurately) population. Dim Sum is widely available in another southern city, Trang. This was the first time we’ve found it in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Dim Sum Dish
One of the ‘dim sum’

The name of the restaurant is ตังเกี๋ย เเต่เตี้ยม – Tang Gia Taa Tiam. The last two words, เเต่เตี้ยม – Taa Tiam (phonetically, it is closer to Dtaa Dtiam) – are what the Hokien Chinese call these types of little dishes, rather than dim sum. The Hokien Chinese are from southern China; in Thai they are called Fujian. I will continue to use “dim sum” since that is what most westerners will relate to.

(Click images to see larger version.)

Thai Dim Sum Restaurant
Here's the restaurant
Restaurant Sign
Look for this sign

Menu, with Pictures

It was our Thai driver, Sun, who told us about the restaurant. He is from Nakhon Si Thammarat and hears about new things. My Thai is not good enough to tell you exactly where the restaurant is. I do know that it’s in a newer district of town called Meuang Tawngmeuang meaning city and tawng meaning gold. I’ve included on our website proper a >jpeg file that includes the , also suitable for printing.

The menu is pretty extensive here: there are nearly 100 items. They are particularly known for their pork soup, so we recommend you definitely try that one. Otherwise, just look at the pictures, see what looks good and give it a try.

I’ve included a slide show of many of the items we’ve eaten there over our visits.

Taa Tiam (Dim Sum) Slideshow

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.
Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

[portfolio_slideshow size=custom togglethumbs=true include=”4490,4491,4492,4493,4494,4495,4496,4590,4591,4592,4593,4594,4595,4596″]

Inside the Restaurant
You can eat inside . . .
Outside the Restaurant
. . . or outside.

Written by Michael Babcock, March 2012