May Cat is a facilitator who works in education, equity & inclusion support. She went to art school in NYC and grew up in Chicago. In her free time she enjoys reading, researching, happy hour, and getting paid for emotional labor.
One sentence to describe yourself and where you came from: A first-generation Siamese-American from Chicago.
What will you be presenting on? Thainess
Best piece of advice you ever got about cooking: Fish sauce in everything.
If you could only eat one meal forever, it would be: Khai Jiao (ไข่เจียว) which is Thai style omelette with white jasmine rice. I'd add a Thai condiment prik nam pla on top (chili fish sauce & lime juice). This is basically Thai people's cheap ramen noodles -- eggs and fish sauce, because I can never find a Thai person without eggs and fish sauce.
Favorite food: I really, really love Issan food from the Northern region of Thailand, like meat salads: Laarb (ลาบหมู) (minced pork salad), Nam Thok (น้ำตก) (meat waterfall salad). I love them sour, sour, sour. My blood is pretty much made out of lime juice and fish sauce. Once A Thai food cart owner made me laarb, tasted it, contorted her face and said it was very sour while I was asking for more lime. For desserts, I like kanom that are coconut based. My favorite fruit in Thailand is Durian.
Recommended reading: lyrics to Trina songs
Best meal(s): My best meals are big communal Thai dinners with proper Thai eating etiquettes: main meals like curries, stir fry, salads in the middle and each person has an individual plate of steamed jasmine rice. You transfer each meal with a spoon onto your own plate per bite. It somewhat annoys me when people scoop tons of food onto their own plate before the meal or eat Thai food with chop sticks (enforced racism? that all asian cultures are all the same?) when the spoon is our main utensil. If you share Thai cultural food productions with me, just eat it right with my cultural etiquette, please. Then we can also have Thai beers and I might forgive you for the cultural misunderstanding with the chop stick and vent to you about Columbus'ing.
Food you’d like to try: I'd love to try more Latin American food. I'm not even sure how and where to start.
Additional comments: I think the intersectionality of class is interesting in the Asian-American identity. I think poverty, and the trauma of poverty effects how you can connect to your culture through food, and selectively determine what part of your culture you can preserve.