Pad Thai: The Noodle Dish that Helped Build a Nation

ChickenPadThai -CookinGenie

23 Dec 2020

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Pad Thai: The Noodle Dish that Helped Build a Nation

For many people, pad Thai—the delectable sweet, sour, and spicy stir fry of rice noodles, tofu, eggs, veggies, bean sprouts, crushed peanuts, and an umami-rich sauce that can be found on the menu of virtually every Thai restaurant in the US—is their first taste of Thai cooking.  

So, it’s interesting to learn that the dish that most Americans think of as the quintessential Thai food didn’t even exist until the mid-20th century 

In her book Materializing Thailandnutritional anthropologist Penny Van Esterik says that the dish was born out of prime minister Plaek Phibunsongkhram’s campaign throughout the 1930s and 40s to build a national identity for Thailand. Hoping to create a sense of pride in “Thai-ness” by uniting his country through culture, he changed the nation’s name from Siam to Thailand,  commissioned a new national anthem, banned local languages and dialects from schools, and set out to create a national dish.

(Also ReadTracing Tacos – A Journey Through Time)

Curiously, the main ingredient in the dish that Phibunsongkhramwho was known as Phibunpromoted isn’t even native to Thailand. Stir-fried rice noodles originated in China and were introduced to the kingdom of Siam by Chinese traders in the 1700s. But promoting a stir-fried noodle dish helped solve a serious problem that Phibun’s nation was facing: flooding and war had caused severe rice shortage, and encouraging people to eat noodles helped preserve the country’s precious rice supply.2 Phibun’s administration took the basic recipe for stir fried rice noodles and loaded it up with nutritious bean sprouts, onions, peanuts, eggs, meats, and a tamarind-based sauce, then encouraged vendors to sell the dish from street carts all over the country. It was, Phibun’s son later pointed out, the first fast food in Thailand.3   

Phibun’s efforts to make pad Thai part of his country’s heritage succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Today, it is a staple of the Thai dietBeyond Thailand, it has become a beloved dish worldwide: In 2011, pad Thai ranked number 5 in CNN Go’s reader poll of the “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods.”4 Wondering how this simple noodle dish became an international culinary superstarMark Padoongpatta professor of Asian and Asian American studies at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and the author of a history of Thai food, says this, too, was driven by the Thai government as an act of culinary diplomacy: in an effort to stimulate exports and encourage tourism, it established the Global Thai Restaurant Company, Ltd. to train chefs and send them around the world to open Thai restaurants5.     

And now, CookinGenie brings this beloved classic noodle dish tyour house. We offer three varieties of classic pad Thai—Chicken, Shrimp, and Vegetarian—cooked from scratch with wholesome, authentic ingredients like rice noodles, sweet-and-sour tamarind paste, spicy chile-garlic paste, and Thai preserved radish. Book your Genie to bring a true taste of Thailand to your very own kitchen. 


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Aphrodisiac Recipes for Valentine’s Day - CookinGenie Blog

14 Feb 2022

You’ve heard the word aphrodisiac before, and often, the first thing that comes to mind is something like oysters. But, truth be told, there are actually more foods that are considered aphrodisiac or aphrodisiac recipes to help you and your partner get in the mood this Valentine’s Day and beyond.

What is an Aphrodisiac?

Aphrodisiacs are foods that are believed to help stimulate human desire. As eating a great meal is always a pleasurable experience, these foods are thought to go a step further in heightening sexual emotions.

Historically, there are five different types of aphrodisiacs and why they are said to arouse passion.

  1. Exotic foods were thought to be erotic because they were rare and expensive compared to more everyday foods in the past.
  2. Spicy hot foods were thought to fire up passion through their spicey heat, while more bland foods were said to have the opposite effect.
  3. Foods that resemble the sexy parts of your body were also thought to be aphrodisiacs, such as oysters and asparagus.
  4. In addition, eating reproductive parts of animals, such as caviar, was believed to be an aphrodisiac.
  5. Finally, foods that were to stimulate your senses were also considered to be aphrodisiacs. When you eat, you’re doing more than just fueling your body. You’re engaging your senses. You’ll use sight, scent, touch, and taste during a meal, and it’s believed that these foods help heighten your sensual feelings through these senses.

While scientifically speaking, no studies have been done to examine the claims that these foods work to increase your libido, it can be a more personal experience that helps spark a fire. Food works to create a pleasant atmosphere, and that can be enough to help stimulate your evening. Keep in mind what helps to create a more romantic evening will depend on the person. Someone that can’t stand seafood probably will not appreciate your attempt to use oysters to stimulate their senses, while chocolate may be more of a boon than you realize this Valentine’s Day.

Examples of Aphrodisiacs and Aphrodisiac Recipes:

  • Chocolate: Between the taste and how the silkiest chocolate melts in your mouth, it’s easy to see why chocolate has made the cut on this list. Chocolate can help to make anyone feel good. Don’t forget that this Valentine’s Day, when you book with CookinGenie, you’ll receive a complimentary Chocolate Mousse to enjoy after your dinner. If Chocolate Mousse isn’t exciting, you can also try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars or the Red Velvet Cupcakes with Creamy Frosting.
  • Asparagus: Asparagus is a healthy food that offers plenty of potassium and vitamin E, which are both excellent for helping to improve overall health and sexual health. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s shaped rather conveniently to be added to this list. For your Valentine’s Day menu, you may want to try Garlic Butter Steak Bites with Oven Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus or the Lemon-Herb Salmon with Parmesan Crusted Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes.
  • Finger Foods: There’s something sensual about finger foods that adds them to this list. Not using utensils and being able to feed each other easily helps to give this food an added layer of allure. Charcuterie can be a fun addition to your Valentine’s Day dinner.
  • Hot Peppers: When you want to kick things up a notch for your palate, hot peppers like jalapenos can be great for adding hot flavors to any recipe. Thanks to the capsaicin in the peppers that give them that spicy effect, your heart rate increases, your endorphins start pumping, and it stimulates your nerve-endings. All-in-all sounds like a great time! Here are some tremendous CookinGenie options that feature peppers: Jalapeno’s Cheddar Cornbread, Baked Lemon Wings With A Kick And Homemade Ranch, and Veggie Pad Thai.
  • Brussel Sprouts: Before you dismiss these little green balls, Brussel sprouts have a lot to offer regarding male libido. These tasty guys have Indole-3-carbinol, which helps reduce estrogen in men and helps to spark desire. Some choice dishes that feature these humble veggies include Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Stuffed Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts.

Setting the Right Mood

Now that you’ve got an idea of some of the best meals to add to your Valentine’s Day, the next thing to consider is how to set the right mood for your special dinner. Although you’re at home, that doesn’t mean that you can bring the romantic restaurant feel to your house. So think about how you can go about setting the right mood.

One of the things that romantic restaurants offer is the ambiance. Music, lighting, and more combine to create the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner atmosphere. Pick out romantic selections for the music you and your special someone enjoy. Classical music, R&B, jazz, and other musical selections can work. You’ll also want to find ways to mute your lighting. You may need to add some candles around the table if you don’t have a dimmer switch. Plus, you can add a nice tablecloth on the table from vintage lace that’s a family heirloom or go with a classic Italian restaurant-style red and white checked cloth.

Another thing to consider is plating. The way that your food is presented helps to evoke being in a nice restaurant. It’s time to break out your fine china and silverware to add to the ambiance. Slopping food on the plate doesn’t add to the presentation. You’ll want to plate it carefully, so you’re not ignoring one of the most important senses of sight when it comes to eating.

Let CookinGenie Help Your Valentine’s Day

Give CookinGenie a try this Valentine’s day with these dishes featuring these aphrodisiac recipes. You and your special someone will dine on a meal specially prepared in your kitchen by a professional chef. Make Valentine’s Day a special day where you won’t have to worry about shopping, cooking, or even having to clean the kitchen afterward—leaving you with plenty of time to enjoy the rest of your date night. Check out these fun dishes and more on the CookinGenie website to find the perfect Valentine’s Day meal, whether you believe in the effects of aphrodisiacs or not.

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Foods to know the Difference Between Food Allergies, Intolerances &Sensitivities

01 Oct 2021

We’re all familiar with food allergies, but nowadays you constantly hear terms like “sensitivity” and “intolerance” to different foods. These three terms often get lumped together, but they’re unique conditions that elicit different responses from the body and have varying levels of seriousness. So, what do all these terms mean? And how should they affect your cooking?

Food allergies

Of the three, food allergies are the most serious. A food allergy is an immune response in your body, usually diagnosed by an allergist with a formal test. The cause of food allergies is still unknown, but the body perceives a harmless food as a threat and in response releases an immune hormone called histamines to “attack” that food it sees as harmful. The release of these histamines causes various symptoms such as hives, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. The onset of symptoms from an allergic reaction is usually immediate.

In cases of extreme allergic reactions, the victim can go into anaphylaxis, a rare allergic condition which can cause fainting and restricting airways. Anaphylaxis requires emergency medical attention and can be life-threatening.

People can be allergic to almost anything, but the most common severe food allergies are milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, wheat, and shellfish.

Allergic reactions from food can range from a slight itch in the ears to a fatal case of anaphylaxis, and just a trace amount of the allergen can be enough to cause a dangerous reaction. Even those who believe they have a “mild” allergy may have a severe reaction any time they consume that allergen, so it’s best to avoid it altogether. Cooking for someone with a food allergy must be done with great caution.

Food intolerances

While food intolerances are not as serious as allergies, they can cause significant illness and discomfort. An intolerance is not an immune response like an allergy, but instead is marked by the body’s inability to digest certain foods. Most food intolerances cause uncomfortable symptoms including stomach pain and diarrhea, but they are never life-threatening. Food intolerances are usually diagnosed by a doctor and symptoms often take several hours after eating to occur. Some common food intolerances are to lactose, a sugar found in cow’s milk, and wheat.

Unlike with allergies, those with food intolerances can usually have small amounts of the food they’re intolerant to. For example, those with a lactose intolerance may be able to have a little bit of grated parmesan cheese on a pizza or a touch of heavy cream cooked into a soup, but a spoonful of yogurt may make them sick. Similarly, someone with a mild intolerance to gluten may be able to have a dash of soy sauce over rice, but not a bowl of pasta.

There are, however, some more severe intolerances. Celiac disease is a rare intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, that can cause severe stomach pain, diarrhea, and violent vomiting. People with Celiac disease cannot have any traces of gluten.

Food sensitivities

Compared to food allergies and intolerances, food sensitivities have the mildest of reactions. Similar to an allergy, food sensitivity is an immune response so it can affect multiple organs with a wide range of symptoms including headaches, fatigue, rashes, and nausea.

The reaction from a food sensitivity can begin hours, or even days, after eating. Because of the delayed onset, food sensitivities can be hard to pinpoint and many of them go undiagnosed. Food sensitivity to gluten, for example, can be as simple as generally feeling tired a couple of days after eating bread. A good way to figure out if you have food sensitivity is to systematically eliminate certain foods from your diet for a week or two at a time to see if there’s a change in how you feel. You can also get tests for certain food sensitivities.

For many people with food insensitivities, a moderate amount of the ingredient will not lead to symptoms. However, as with allergies and intolerances, the level of sensitivity varies from person to person.

The bottom line

Food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities are all challenging conditions that should be taken seriously when cooking. When cooking for others with any of these conditions, be sure to talk to them beforehand and fully understand the nature and severity of their condition. If it’s just a mild sensitivity or intolerance, you may be able to use a little bit of the ingredient to make the tastiest dish possible. But, if your guest has a severe food allergy, you should steer clear of that ingredient.

At CookinGenie, all allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities are taken very seriously. CookinGenie chefs undergo a rigorous interview process, and they are adaptable to different dietary restrictions. The CookinGenie support staff will also work with you closely to ensure your meal meets your requirements so that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a delicious homecooked meal.

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Chicken Tacos

25 Nov 2020

When thinking about famous foods from around the world, some key dishes come to mind. We’re willing to bet Mexican cuisine ranks high on many people’s lists, with tacos at the top. But, have you ever stopped to wonder how the tasty taco came to be?  

It turns out, the history of the taco is as colorful and varied as the taco fillings themselves.  

Tacos as we know them today were believed to have started in the 1800s as the humble lunch of Mexican silver miners. The word “taco” translates to “plug” or “wad” – reflecting the small sticks of dynamite used in the mines.  

There is evidence, however, that the taco’s origins began much earlier.  

It is believed that the Aztecs invented tortillas using masa cooked on hot stones. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma, used the tortillas like a spoon to scoop or hold food such as cochineal, beans, and chiles. The word “taco” stems from the Nahuatl word “tlahco,” meaning “half” or “in the middle” in reference to how it is formed. 

(Also ReadMade to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis)

Early taco fillings were simple and reflected what was available, such as fishcooked organs, small insects, ants, locusts, and snails. It wasn’t until the 1500s, when Spanish soldiers arrived in Mexico with pigs from Cuba, that pork was introduced as a filling and served at large banquets (the first “taco parties” as documented in 1520 by Bernal Diaz del Castillo, a Spanish soldier sailing with Hernan Cortes). From here, the taco spread across the “New World” as a staple food 

Whether crediting the Aztecs or silver miners, the taco is a dish woven through the fabric of Mexican cuisine. 

Into America & Beyond 

Portable and easy to eat, tacos became a primary meal of the working class. In time, street food vendors filled soft corn tortillas with a simple, spicy filling to offer workers on their breaks. Around 1905, this delicious and practical meal crossed the border into the United States when Mexican laborers moved north to work on the railroads.  

It wasn’t until the 1920s that the traditional filling of organs was replaced by beef and chicken. In addition, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese became standard fillings in America  this fusion brought forth by the availability of American ingredients and a more subtle palate.   

While some may prefer more traditional preparation, today, tacos in America include a vibrant blend of traditional Mexican flavors combined with new ingredients and influences from around the globe – a fusion of flavors to satiate a wide variety of tastes.  

Need further evidence of the taco’s cult-like following? In 2019, Netflix released the first season of Taco Chronicles, a docuseries that explores the rich histories of popular taco styles. From barbacoa to carnitas, cochinita to birria, and many others, watch this mouth-watering series on your next taco night.  

Whatever fillings you like, tacos are arguably one of the most-loved foods in the world. Whether you prefer vegetarian sweet potato and black bean, or chicken, pork or beef, CookinGenie offers fresh, authentic home-cooked Mexican-styled tacos to make every night taco night. We cook from scratch with wholesome ingredients, right in your kitchen. Whether meal prepping or organizing a small dinner party, our Genies can help create a taco bar like no other, connecting you back to hundreds of years of tradition and fusion of cultures through food.  

 

Sources 

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