Tonight I had dinner with Chokchai (a science-education teacher who works in the education department), his family, and one of his wife’s coworkers. I edited a paper of Chokchai’s in September, and he took me out to dinner to thank me. He asked me where I wanted to go, and I suggested we go to an Isan restaurant.
I met him, his wife, and his son at the education building. Chokchai informed me that we were going to the best Isan restaurant in Khon Kaen. I was excited about that. His wife seemed surprised that I wanted to eat Isan food and asked me why I wanted to go to that restaurant. That should have tipped me off.
The Isan food I’ve had so far has been pretty standard (sticky rice, grilled chicken, som tam, grilled pork, and sometimes a spicy soup). Tonight’s Isan food was a little more…well…”authentic”, to use Chokchai’s word for it. We had sticky rice and grilled pork, but we also had some raw beef and soups with some really weird meats in them. I decided not to risk eating the raw beef. I tasted one of the soups and it was so spicy that it made my face hurt. I thought I’d never recover! I ate a bunch of sticky rice and pork until the chili was out of my mouth. I eventually got up the courage to try another soup. I scooped up some broth and what I thought was broccoli. It wasn’t broccoli. It was an internal organ that looked like broccoli! It was green and everything! Thankfully, Chokchai told me what it was before I ate it. To top the experience off, the restaurant was outside, and there were thousands of insects flying around our food and getting into our drinks.
Despite the unappetizing food, I had a good time. Chokchai’s son has been studying English and was excited to practice with me. We spent a lot of the time asking and answering beginning English questions like “How old are you?”, “Where are you from?” and “What’s your favorite color?” I also enjoyed talking with Chokchai’s wife and her coworker. Chokchai’s wife gave me a Thai name! My Thai name is Oosa (the stress goes on the first syllable). She chose Oosa for me because it has the same meaning as the name Emily (hard worker).