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.

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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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save more with personal chef

01 Nov 2021

Let’s do a little exercise really quickly. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words “personal chef”? More than likely, you’re thinking something along the lines of how expensive it must be or how only the very rich can afford to have their own personal chef.  

Are you ready for a little secret? 

Lean in a little. Okay, here it is. 

Personal chefs are an affordable choice that can fit just about any budget. In fact, you could be doing yourself a disservice by not using a personal chef service for special occasions or as a little treat.  

What is Included in Personal Chef Service? 

You may be surprised by what’s included when you get a personal chef service. The first is that they come to your home after shopping for all of the ingredients that they need to cook the dishes that you requested. Then, the kitchen magic happens where your regular kitchen is turned into a fancy restaurant kitchen for one night. Your selected chef will prepare the dishes so that you can enjoy a hot meal at home. Once the meal is finished, your personal chef will then clean up the kitchen leaving you free to enjoy the meal and conversation without worrying about whether or not that sauce is going to easily come off the pan or how long you’ll need to soak everything. 

Personal Chef Services are More Affordable Than You Might Think 

Are you still thinking that a complete chef service that includes so much is going to break the bank? You are about to be surprised. A personal chef service will cost you less than going out to eat.  

At a traditional restaurant, there are a number of costs to consider. Meals can cost about $20 to $25 a person. Don’t forget to add on the cost of any drinks you and the rest of your party are enjoying. Even drinking a carbonated beverage can add up to your bill. Then, you must consider other costs associated with dining out. You had to drive to the restaurant, so that’s gas along with wear and tear on your vehicle. You may have to pay to park or use the valet service depending on where you’re dining. Then, there’s the time factor. Going out to eat, especially today where many restaurants are having staffing shortages, can chew up a lot of your valuable time as you wait for an open table, wait some more on your food to be prepared, and then wait on the check to arrive at the end of the meal. 

Personal chef services like CookinGenie can be less costly and time-consuming than the old way of going out. You can pick your meal and see your price. Don’t want to have leftovers? Order exactly the number of portions you need. Want to enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day? Order more portions.   

Eat Healthier with More Convenience & Less Cost 

Personalized Meals  

So, using a personal chef service is cheaper than visiting a restaurant. There’re some other benefits that also come with this option over dining out. Ever go to a restaurant and must eliminate many of the dishes from consideration because of a food allergy or not like a particular ingredient? It’s often easier to just order something else because even if you go through the process of telling the waitstaff to remove an item, there’s always a chance that it will end up in your dish anyway. Kitchens at restaurants can be loud and busy places where sometimes things get lost in translation. Imagine being able to tell your personal chef that you don’t like mushrooms or a family member has an allergy to peanuts, and feeling safe in the knowledge that they won’t buy mushrooms or peanuts during their shopping trip. That’s a great feeling. 

Be Healthy 

At the end of the day, is dinner a rushed event in your home? Do you rely on packaged meals that may not be the healthiest choice, but it’s quick and easy? That happens to a lot of people who have enough to juggle in a day on top of making sure no one goes to bed feeling hungry. Going with a personal chef service means that you’ll get freshly made and healthy meals that aren’t coming out of a can or the freezer. You do not have to feel guilty about not having time to make a meal that not only tastes great but is great for you and your family.  

Focus on What Matters More 

The convenience that comes from hiring a personal chef gives you the chance to focus on what matters the most to you, and that is worth its weight in gold. Your life is busy. It’s easy to forget how to connect with those you love the most when you have got to handle everything on your plate in a day along with getting food on a plate for everyone to eat. Imagine instead of trying to rush to the store to grocery shop, someone else handles it for you, even if just for one day a week or month. Plus, an added bonus is that you do not have to worry about handling the cleanup after spending even more time with your family. 

Convinced yet to give a personal chef service a try? Still worried that the prices are too high for your budget. You can do a little experiment. Pull out your last receipt from your favorite restaurant you like to visit for special occasions. Then, open CookinGenie website, so you can compare the two. Oh, and do not forget that you do not have to buy the groceries, do any cooking or clean-up, and get to enjoy the professionally made food hot and ready right from your kitchen without the inconveniences that come from eating in restaurants in a world still getting over the pandemic.  

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Made to Cook: The Cooking Hypothesis

22 Oct 2020

What makes us human? Some would argue that it’s the act of cooking — whether it’s boiling, broiling, roasting, baking, or barbecuing — that separates us from every other species on Earth. 

 In 1999, Harvard professor of biological anthropology Richard Wrangham published an article in the Current Anthropology journal called “The Raw and the Stolen: Cooking and the Ecology of Human Origins. Known as “the cooking hypothesis,” Wrangham’s groundbreaking new theory of human evolution proposed that taming fire to cook food changed the course of human evolution. 

 In his article and his 2009 book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, Wrangham argued that cooking allowed our human ancestors to process food more efficiently — and this change had a profound impact on evolution. While all other animals eat raw foods, Wrangham theorized that our ancestors began cooking their food some 1.8 million years ago, a change that gave early man the ability to process food more efficiently. It takes a long time, and a very large jaw and teeth, to grind down raw meat and plant matter. Before our ancestors learned how to cook, Wrangham estimated that half of their waking hours were spent simply chewing enough food to subsist, leaving little time for anything else. Cooking alters the chemical structure of food, breaking down the connective tissues in meat, and softening the cells of plants to release their starches and fats. This makes cooked food easier to chew and digest. This also helpthe body to use less energy to convert food into calories. Once the cooking was introduced, he estimated that our ancestors had an extra four hours in their day — time that could be spent huntingforaging, and slowly beginning to organizinto societiesWrangham explained, “The extra energy gave the first cooks biological advantages. They survived and reproduced better than before. Their genes spread. Their bodies responded by biologically adapting to cooked food, shaped by natural selection to take maximum advantage of the new diet. There were changes in anatomy, physiology, ecology, life history, psychology, and society.”  

This higher calorie, higher-quality diet lead to the evolution of bigger brains and bodies, and smaller jaws and teeth—a transformation that gradually resulted in modern man. From the control of fire and the growth in brain size, it’s not such a large leap to the development of dedicated hearths, the introduction of pottery and other tools for cooking, and the domestication of plants and animals.  

(Also ReadWhat eating healthy looks like)

 Wrangham’s theory is, of course, just that: a theory. Archaeological history to support control of fire 1.8 million years ago has not yet been found, but the recent discovery of ash in a South African cave suggests that our ancestors were controlling fire at least 1 million years ago — far earlier than previous evidence suggested. It may be just a matter of time before definitive evidence that proves Wrangham’s theory is found.  

 And If Wrangham’s theory is correct, we truly are what we eat.  

 If cooking is so fundamental to our evolution as people, it is a wonder that we don’t have time to make home-cooked meals with wholesome ingredients. Modern life has created many barriers to our ability to prepare home-cooked meals. What do we do if we don’t have time for home cookingBusinesses like CookinGenie can help you bring cooking where it belongs—in your own kitchen—even when you don’t have time to cook yourself. Check out our menus, and book your Genie today for building healthy eating habits in the family.  

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Delicious Gluten Free Meals with CookinGenie

06 Jul 2021

The Challenge of Eating Gluten Free

For many Americans, trying to find good gluten free meals is a never-ending struggle. It’s estimated that about 30% of Americans follow a gluten free diet. A small number of these people have celiac disease, a rare disorder that causes violent illness after consuming products with gluten, but many others avoid gluten due to more minor sensitivities or to improve overall health.

Whatever your reason for seeking out gluten free meals, there’s no doubt it can be challenging. Today, as the popularity of gluten free diets have risen, it is easier to find gluten free foods, but there can still be many obstacles.

Many restaurants still don’t offer very many gluten free options on their menus, or menus don’t have specific dietary labels, which can make it hard for diners to distinguish which items are safe to order. Even in the grocery store, unless an item is clearly marked as gluten free, it can be hard to read labels and determine what is actually gluten free or not.

CookinGeine Has Plenty of Delicious Gluten Free Menu Items

This dynamic can make trying to cook gluten free meals at home difficult. Luckily, CookinGenie can service all your gluten free meal needs and then some! Scroll through the menus of our many talented genies, and you’ll find plenty of healthy, delicious gluten free meals available.

Treat yourself to a heart-healthy, gluten free meal of Pan-Seared Salmon over Creamed Spinach, courtesy of genie Lashondre’a Lenor. Or if you’re looking for an elegant gluten free chicken dinner, look no further than the delightful Lemon-Rosemary Cornish Hens found on genie Dylan Tompkin’s menu.

And if you also follow a vegan diet, (we have plenty of vegan food too) there are still plenty of delicious gluten free meals to be found on CookinGenie, such as genie Vanessa Cahoun’s amazing Jamaican Vegetable Curry or genie Ozelm Saritoprak’s authentic Turkish Stuffed Grape Leaves.

Our Genies go the Extra Mile to Create Gluten Free Dishes

Our genies take care to carefully select their ingredients to be accommodating to many different dietary restrictions. Take, for example, genie Jared Kent’s vibrant Pad Thai, which uses gluten free soy sauce, opening up dishes to gluten free eaters that might not normally be available.

Amazingly, that even goes for dessert! It’s notoriously hard to find good gluten free desserts, but CookinGenie has you covered. You can get your fix for a gluten free chocolate craving with genie Lamont Denny’s addicting Chocolate Caramel Turtles or genie Christian Farah’s decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Bars.

Each dish is marked with tags that explicitly note if that item is gluten free, so there’s no guesswork involved. But even if you see a dish that’s not marked as gluten free, there’s a good chance if you give us a call, we can work with your genie to adjust it to your preferences. Often times all it takes is swapping out flour or pasta for a gluten free alternative. Our genies are skilled adapters and are happy to go above and beyond to satisfy their customers.

Eating gluten free can be tough; let CookinGenie make it a little easier, and a little more delicious.

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