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Boat Duck Noodle Soup

ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ Boat Noodles

“Louis, What do you want for dinner?” This was the question my Thai friends, for all intents and purposes, family, asked me.  I requested Duck Soup with noodles. It was special, I was just getting to town. The only places they were sure had Duck soup were not open yet. Once I said duck soup it became the objective. Two hours later, no matter how much I said, “lets find something practical”, we were still looking for duck soup. My family there is 180 degrees out of phase with “practical”.

Soup with rice noodles ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ kwuaytiyo rya  is a common street food throughout Southeast Asia. In Thailand it is often sold by vendors with pushcarts, and folding tables and chairs. I particularly like the duck variety although I often eat the pig variety or chicken. เรือ Rya means boat and these were traditionally served from boats on the canals and river in Krung Thep. The first part of the name appears to be Chinese or Malay, I am not sure.

It is hard to understand how important food is in Thailand. Even a rushed lunch location is an important decision. There is almost always a sauce, or three, available and often there is customization, do you want innards or not? Extra meat? The special version or regular? And then in places you can ask for all sorts of things. Some dishes always come with the same garni and/or condiments. A few dishes always come with clear broth.

But kwauytiyo is relatively simple except that I can never hang onto how to say it. You can order it without liquid, but it normally is with broth. You get to choose the kind of noodle in most places.  Normaly you would get rice noodles. But even these come in three plain varieties, wide, small, and round, There are flat 2 inch square noodles served in other dishes. Then there are bha mii, a wheat noodle with egg, woon sen, a bean thread, and mama noodles, the instant ramen noodles.

Where I stay in Thailand there is a noodle cart permanently parked on the sidewalk by the bridge over the highway. These bridges are called floating spans. Anyhow this cart is only open nights. I suspect that the owners use it to suppliment income. They only serve the pig variety. In my opinion it is pretty plain, but makes a great 10pm snack.

The meat is usually inexpensive cuts sliced thing. In first quality beef soup there is usually some tendon. It helps make a great broth. There are often “fish balls” or other protein concoctions, usually round. There can be liver. Since it is not broiled, this is something I usually do not have a big problem with. A friend commiserates with me about liver, he says he would rather eat the oil filter. I can relate. If the dish is served in a fish variety it is usually with luuk chin pla, Thai gefilte fish.

I cannot speak to to the seafood version of kwautiyo I never order it. I seem to be the poster child for food poisoning from clams. I stay away.

Namtok, meaning I believe “waterfall” at least literally refers to adding blood to the broth. This makes it much richer. It is not always available.  If you are European they might assume that you do not want it.

Once you get it on the table you have condiments to fix it up. There is Naam Pla Phrik or Fish sauce with peppers, usually there is some coarse grind of red pepper, sugar sometimes, salt, plain fish sauce and ground white pepper. Chopsticks and soupspoons are stored on the table in a long stainless box. After you add your customization you stir it by picking up some of the noodles breaking up the wad of them.

After a couple of hours of driving around we finally got to a chicken noodle place. It was on the route home which is good. They were great.


rice noodle  ก๋วยเตี๋ยว Ǩwyteī̌yw
boat เรือ Reụ̄x
duck เป็ด Pĕd
fish sauce with pepper น้ำปลาพริก N̂ảplā phrik
fish balls ลูกชิ้นปลา Lūkchîn plā
waterfall น้ำตก N̂ảtk

Red Curry Mildish

Basic Recipe from Hot Thai Kitchen, a great site for Thai recipes. They also have a nice Facebook page.

I wanted to turn down the heat, and still have it reddish.
Dry Ingredients ground in my coffee grinder (spinning blade type). I clean it out by grinding some dry rice twice.
1t. Salt
1/2 t black pepper
1t lemon zest
4 makrut Thai lime leaves
1 ancho pepper
3 dried chinese store peppers  They look like ripe serannos but dry. You can use Thai chillis or anything other than red sweet pepper. If I had ripe serranos or Thai chilis I would use them.
1T Korean pepper powder.
1t Dry cilantro seed

Wet ingredients, if not already chopped I turn them into 1/4 inch size pieces first then process them in a food processor until smooth. This takes opening it and mixing many times.
3T chopped lemongrass. I buy this chopped and frozen.
1t frozen or fesh Galangal (aka Laos or Ka)
1t fermented shrimp paste
1T vegetable oil (aids food processing)
2T Cilantro leaf
Add ground dry ingredients and process until well blended and smooth. Sometime I have to blend by hand.

Food Topics

Mae and the Green Snake with the Wood Tale.
Louis, Cashews, Urishol.
Jum, Naem,
UHT Milk
Miang Kam,

This topic, miang, along with phat pai kaprow, and Choke Chai probably should get attached to Jum.

The VFW in Korat and the Siri,
The Courtyard near Kun Ying Mo with the hot spicy food and the quiet.

HS9DEK Nam Voodoo, and Joy,
Maybe quotes from the journal and insidious intestinal irritants.

Som Tum,
The half life of Kai Yang at bus stations

How to avoid food poisoning

Ghost Gate Market, Talaat Nat today, and The Chicken Lady ,
The old woman and the roasted bananas , paper bags from used paper,

Ease of starting a business, Japan,






Uncle Bernie

Uncle Bernie was everyone’s uncle. This was told to me by the child of one of his friends. It rang true. My friends called him “Uncle Bernie” my  parents, aunts and other uncles called him that, at least in our presence. It would not surprise me if they called him Uncle Bernie in his favorite restaurants.

Bernie was a pianist, but to call him that seems thin, it does not contain him.His house was mad. He had beaded lamp that could have been used to upscale the set for “The Adams Family”. He lived in a duplex across Jefferson from Bell Isle in Dowtown Detroit for most of his adult life. The duplex was all hardwood trim and floors, the lighting insufficient. It was full of antiques.

When I was young my brothers and I would go into the attic and play a cylidrical record player. It was scratchy and a lot of fun. He also had a Victrola. It was cool, but not like the Edison record player.For a while we were told to be careful in the attic.The floor was insecure. This was from roof leaks. Rent was inexpensive. There was not money for repairs unless he paid.

He had a a canopy bed with curtains. It was short. It was a copy of a much older bed. His house was full of paintings and prints, tableware, pottery, and Mason Hamlin grand that was built special of Ossip Gabrolovich. It was a glorious piano. It had a bass that to my ear sounded both rich and brilliant. It was a dream to play.

Bernie was generous. It was not just things or money. He wanted to hear me play each time I came over. He played for me and let me sing. But he also showed me how to do things when I was young. He had me make espresso at one of his parties and introduced me to Turkish Coffee.

There was nothing like Uncle Bernie coming to visit, nothing. He would pound on the door, Boom Boom Boom. The three of us Katz Boys would put on our father’s felt hats and run around like crazy as we fought over who would open the door! Bernie would be standing with his arms stretched out and wiggling slowly like Frankenstein and then shuffle in. He almost always had something special. These are the gifts that I remember. But you have to think back, this was in the 1960’s exotic food, was.

He came with Okra dried on thread. A few times he came with green or brown licorice. It was decades before I saw it again. He came for dinner and had a can of truffles (mushrooms), I was maybe 8 years old. I hated mushrooms but I tried these. I remember thinking, “These taste like dirt.” We probably ate the truffles with plastic silverware and on paper plates as they are hunted by pigs.

He gave my mother a pound of paprika. My brothers once got a five year subscription to Mad Magazine. Spumoni Ice Cream was a frequent treat. Occasionally we ate at his house. Once he made us pizza. I do not remember what was on it, but it was unusual. For all I know it could have been a frog leg pizza. He often made souffles.

Bernie served us Steak Tartar. I wish I remembered more. He had great spices. He ate at fun restuarants. The owners knew him. He shopped at the large Eastern Market. His coffee was luscious. It was the first coffee I enjoyed drinking.

Bernie’s brother Bill had piano lessons.  Bill was in the kitchen talking with his father. “Bill, I thought that was you playing the piano. Who is it?” “Oh, that’s Bernie, he copies me.”. “You know Bill we cannot afford more piano lessons.”

Bill took Bernie down to his piano teacher to show him off. The piano teacher asked if he had had any lessons. Bill said “no”, we can’t afford them. The teacher said, “he is for free”.

When Bernie was 12 a friend of his father’s took Bernie to a bar to play. Bernie came home with more in tips than his father made in a day. The first day, dad, whose name I have, was mad. After a week he got his head screwed on straight and realized that there was now more money.

About the time Bernie was 22 he recognized that he had a problem with alcohol and stopped drinking. It was affecting his ability to play.

Some people read music. Bernie devored it. He developed an incredible memory, and could fake anything, in any key. He could count seven against nine or any other odd combination of rythms with two hands.  A couple of times when I was growing up we got to go the Detroit Symphony and hear him play. The phone calls informing us went like this. I am playing with the symphony tonight at  7:30. Be there by seven and ask for my tickets at the box office.

At his end it would go like this. The phone would ring. “Bernie, the pianist got stuck in a snow storm, can you play XXXXXXXXXXX?. Bernie would say “yes”. Then he would say, “someone has to get my tux to the cleaners”, I need the music delivered, and dinner picked up at the Chinese Restauarant. It was near his house and had booths with walls and I think doors.  I at there a few times when I was young.

My parents were going on an international trip. They were working on a will in case something happened to them. The got the Katz brothers together and asked us, “If something happened to us which aunt or uncle would you like to live with. We had three choices. In unison we said, “UNCLE BERNIE”.

I tried out for Fiddler on the Roof. Bernie was the music director. I did not get selected. But during the tryouts he would accompany people. One person kept switching keys. After the second time Bernie would play ahead of the key switch modulating so that it sounded intentional.

Sometime, and I am not certain of the year, Bernie had a stroke and lost most of the function in his left hand. They told him that they would give him physical therapy. He was elated.
They came to take him and told him that they were going to teach him to walk. He said, I need to learn to use my hand. They said you have to learn to walk first. He told them to “xxxx off”.

They came back the next day and said that they would take him to learn to walk. He was prepared. He said, “I will do anything you want all morning long, anything”. In the afternoon you teach me to use my hand. ” They agreed.
After a few days of this he said, “You know, this is really boring around here, you need some music, What about a piano? They thought he was joking and said, where would we put a piano. He said “over there” and pointed. To get him off their case they said, “ok”.

Bernie could be a pain. But Bernie has friends. They are still his friends even though he is no longer with us. He called one of them up, met them at the back door in his wheel chair and suddenly, Physical Therapy had live music.

I was told to come into town. Bernie was dying. I talked with him for a while in a nursing home. It was a dismal place. I said, “Hey Bernie, do you want to play the piano in the cafeteria? ” He said , “yes”. It was a piece of junk. I move the bench and rolled up his wheel chair. There were about five people in the cafeteria just sitting in chairs staring off into space. He started to play. They started to act alive. Bernie played for about 15 minutes. I flew home. A few days later I flew back in for the funeral.

There was no one in the world like Uncle Bernie. The lives of all that knew him are richer because of it.  He was a devoted musician, cook, friend, and an incredible uncle.

This video of am extravaganza at his house when Alessandra Mark was posted by one of his devoted friends.






Today I needed to glue some PLA plastic from my 3D printer together. The 3D forums all talk about how this is difficult, and I have had troubles. Unless you have a lot of surface or no need for strenght, everything I had tried up until today did not work.
PVA, polyvinyl alcohol, white Elmers® glue, requires porousity. Epoxy works sort of if you sand first but still is not very stuck. Plumbing cement does not work.
Just yesterday for another application I bought some Duco Cement. It is very similar to a “clear acid bottle varnish” recipe from “A Handbook of Chemistry and Physics” 1947 which suggests “dissolving ordinary toothbrush handles in acetone”. The question is, “What was an ‘ordinary toothbrush handle’ made of?” The answer is nitrocellulose. It makes a great finish and is still used on guitars. It is also, with less acetone, the basic recipe for Duco. It seems, at least at this short try, to work really well.
Given this success I thought that I should also try “Juice”. Juice is a mix that is used to stick ABS plastic to its build surface when 3D extrusion or additive printing with ABS filament. It is ABS filament dissolved in acetone. I am using this mix in a thicker consistency than I use for juiceing my build surface.
Please, please, acetone is not innocuous, vent the fumes and minimize exposure, use appropriate protective gear. Both of these glues are flammable and have low flash points when wet. Nitrocellulose is highly flammable even when dry and not safe to store dry. I am not convinced that the recipe using nitrocellulose is safe. There are many varients of this plastic. My suggestion for this sort of glue is to just buy Duco or another brand. But the Juice recipe seems great, and if you have filament in colors, you can have glue in the same colors.Just follow the warning label on the acetone and practice good hygiene. I am not a safety expert.


There are manythings that might get listed as the Thai national pastime. It could be chit-chat พูดคุย. It could be music. But to me, the quintessential Thai Pastime is eating. It is an activity central to everything. Eating in Thailand is an art form. How to eat? What to eat? Where to eat? Why eat? With whom? When to eat? The topic was brought to mind by a Facebook friend whom I have never had an eyeball with, never met face to face. She is quarantining in Bangkok, on day three of fourteen. She has been posting pictures of her food. They deliver it to her room. I have been looking at it and it has been making me sad. It seems inhuman. The first question that comes to mind”How can you serve that kind of food to a Thai person?” Then when you realize that they are doing so in Bangkok, City of Angles, the impregnable city of God Indra, city of the 9 gemsฯลฯ. How can it be true that you serve cold breaded cutlets of some sort with gloopy sauce from a bottle? The pictures she has been posting on Facebook have been provoking a Thai response from her family, homemade food delivered. Half way around the world I am relieved. How could this happen? I teach at a university. We often have Thai students. I want to meet them. I cannot tell a Thai person from someone from Cambodia or Vietnam. But I want to meet Thais. In general they are happy to meet me. I have friends of over ten years now that I met on campus. We have helped each other. The first Thai I met was while I was in school. For various reasons, I have no way to meet them. Sometimes I don’t know that there is a Thai student until I see their name during graduation. But about five years ago it dawned on me. I can tell Thai people or at least often can by how they eat. It is rare to see a Thai person in our cafeteria eating alone. You eat with a pyan เพื่อน , a companion. You share food. This might be dipping sauces, it might be the main dishes, it might be fruit. Food is generally eaten by pushing it onto a spoon with the back side of a fork. That is, unless its Chinese food, in which case its eaten with chopsticks. Exactly what food is on the spoon, each spoonful, is likely arranged. A small amount of sauce might have been gathered first, there might be a piece of a vegetable, there will likely be rice unless its a noodle dish. Spoonfuls are not too big. As this happens you see hands moving around the table, like a dance. It can be quite graceful. Things are shared. Foods have very specific sauces, often have vegetables that accompany them and side dishes. One of my favorite dishes, in some ways a simple, plain dish, is Kao Man Gai. Kao Man Gai is served with some cucumber slices. The rice is cooked in oil and broth of the chicken. The chicken is served on top of the rice. There is some cooked chicken blood on the side and a sauce that is very flavorful but usually not too spicey. This sauce is specific to Kao Man Gai. Cucumbers are a frequent side in street cuisine. I think that this is because they keep well all day. The soup that is served on the side is usually very mild thin broth. It reminds me of my mothers’s matzoh ball soup. The broth for Kao Man Gai has very little yichus. Yichus are the solids in soups, like vegetables or lentils. But Kao Man Gai broth does have Chinese winter melon or in the US sometimes cooked daikon radish or something mild like that. There are often fresh vegetables at the Thai table. These can be quite exotic tasting, bitter, sulphury, astringent -like or just crunchy long beans and cabbage. The taste “bitter” is important in Thailand. Bitter foods are often seen as good for the health, maybe like cod-liver oil in the West. I would not know. I have never had cod-liver oil. I have had many of the bitter vegetables in Thailand. They are “interesting” to eat. It would take something to get Gail to eat any more of these. And she is an adventurous eater. Some times of the day ask for certain foods. Where I lived, at Chez Umdang, late afternoon was time for Som Tum, Green Papaya Salad, the favored dish of Isaan, the Northeast region of Thailand. Who made the Som Tum varied. Usually it was one of the wonderful young women helping around the house, Gaw Wow named for the song of a bird, or Fon whose name means rain. These women were helpful and gratious in a way that cannot be overstated. They made awful days bearable, and had thier hands in making our good times in Dankwian magical. Green papaya salad is an exercise in balance of flavor, spicey, sour, fishy, garlic, and some textural variety. It is hard to get right, but Som Tum varies a lot, and there seemed to be people whose Som Tum was prized. But usually Som Tum was made by Gaw Wow or Fon. Green papaya is full of enzymes, and papaya juice is used as medicine in parts of the world and my thoughts about it are that its daily consumption might be a way to keep intestinal parasites under control. They are a problem in the Northeast, and Som Tum is endemic. Some som tum each day keeps the doctor away. If you are leaving me food to eat when I am buried or a ghost, skip the alcohol and leave me som tum. I will be grateful. I got picked up at the train station. It had been a long day and there was no food on the train. I was hot, tired, thirsty, and there were 4 adults and two children in the car. There was no air conditioning but fortunately it was in the cool part of the day, ตอนเย็น, interestingly named “cool time”. I was asked what I wanted to eat, I said “Duck Soup”. Its one of my favorite forms of street food. This question being asked of me was in some ways an honor, a choice like this having some real importance. I don’t think I would have picked up on this on my first trip. Duck soup. “Oh duck soup is very good” . “Jum, who makes the best duck soup?” . “Certainly its the vendor on the Dankwian Road”. “I like the stand in the old market”. “There is a new place by the Seven (11) by the mall, Its pretty good”.” Well the Vendor on the Dankwian Road does not open until 10pm. But its really good. Maybe we should see if he opened early”. “No its too far to turn back, lets try the place by Ghost Gate Market”. We turn and drive towards there. “Jum, do you really want to eat that soup? The flavor is weak” “Maybe there is some by the night market, Some vendors open early”. We drove around for two hours looking but not finding. My “lets eat something else” was not apparently acceptable.

Kinako Cerve Katz – きなこCerveכץ

This recipe is for an amalgam hot beverage recipe.
Fresh roast some soybeans as you would coffee. I use a heat gun in an uncoated tin can stirring with a very long implement.
I roast the bean meat to a traditional US light roasted color. I ignore the color of the skins.
Allow them to cool and grind them very fine in a coffee grinder. I do not use a bur mill, but one of those cheapo high speed mills I add one cardomom pod to about a 1/4 cup of the beans.

Using a #5 Cerve pot (AKA Turkish/Greek/Arabic/Israeli coffee pot) heat some water with 2 teaspoons of sugar.
When near boiling add 1.5 Tablespoons of fine ground kinako.
Bring to a boil and allow to froth up.
Let it sit 20 seconds and froth it up again.
You can do this a third time.
The Kinako settles more quickly than coffee so wait ten seconds and pour. Reserve some foam for each cup.
Top this off with coconut milk. I do not know if it is good with cream but most things are. It would be fine with me if you used butter.
The recipe is also good with a bit of cocoa added.

Liz R

The summer Suwanee turned up at The Bray was a wild summer. Our friend Owen came and helped me build my kiln on the scrap brick pile. Mary Rutger, who we all lost too soon, was there with her friend Liz R. Liz is important here because she suggested that I apply for a Fulbright Grant from the US government.

So I called the Fulbright Office. Some of you reading will not have experienced this, but there was no internet available. No email or online phone books. I dialed the telephone information number for Washington DC and asked for the number of The Fulbright Foundation. Just in case it comes up to get information you would dial 1, then the area code, and then 555-1212.

They were located on Dupont Circle. The program is administered by The Council for the Internation Exchange of Scholars (CIES) I asked for information and was connected with the head of the Southeast Asian Section.

He asked me a series of questions.
1. Do you have a doctorate?
2. Are you teaching at a college or university?
3. Have you written any books?

Since all of these questions were answered “no” he said that I should not bother applying.
Liz told me to call back and just get an application. The application arrived August 5th 1987 and was due August 15. Suwanee had already returned to Thailand.

Other than that sheet of slides that my Thai friend in Normal Illinois had shown me, I knew nothing of Thai pottery. It did not seem enough for a long proposal. I looked through all the books in the Bray Library, the local public library and the state library in Helena Montana. I decided to drive to Bozeman Montana to the University library. I found a book with one paragraph about Thai Pottery. It was about glazed porcelain and I was more interested in stoneware. I also turned up an article on Thailand in National Geographic from 1934. One of the pictures contained some utilitarian pots.

At this point in my life a four page paper could be torturous. It is not that I could not put ideas together, or did not know grammar, it was that I was dysgraphic. When I learned what the diagnosis meant I knew that it applied to me.
You can read about my experiences with dysgraphia here:
Anyhow, I got to writing a grant. I did the obvious and asked “What do they want to fund that I want to do?” and described that intersection. Gail helped me proof this. I could not have gotten the grant without her help. She writes and proofreads well. I have some significant deficiencies.
People occasionally told me, “You were so lucky to get that grant”. Sometimes this attitude is irritating. I worked my but off for that grant. I went to graduate school for that grant. I was friendly to people to get that grant. I wrote down people’s phone numbers to get that grant. I stayed up late ten days in a row in order to write that grant, and I had a conversation with Suwanee’s mother in Thai when I could not speak it for that grant. It was not luck, but hard work, planning and being nice. It never hurts you to be nice.
Here is how.

Nui, Professor Poonarat, who I have already wrote about taught me how to count and ask where the bathroom is located and a few other words. I had Suwanee record about 10 minutes of Thai Phrases from a book. I had the book checked out from the library. I knew that if I called Suwanee’s phone number that she did not live there, her parents did. No one in the village of Dankwian had a phone. There was a village phone office with one number. So I made a chart. It had greating on it in transliterated Thai. Then it had a statement, ” I do not speak Thai” . I want to speak with Suwanee NAtewong. Then it had a list of possible answers with keywords underlined. Then there was a long list of questions or statements, “Could you say it again?” ” What time”?. “Where?”, What number?
How many hours? What day? etc.
It then had a list of keywords regarding time, date, place, telephones etc.
I called. The phone call cost about $2.00 a minute.


(maybe call this misparsing?)
Microparsing: The deliberate or subconscious parsing of the least significant parts of word definitions or elevating the importance of unintended connotations to obscure or misinterpret the intent of the writer or speaker.