A Thai Woman Returns a Favor

Once upon a time, there was a place called Wakaki.
It was a place blessed with nature, including Mt. Hachimandake and Mt. Mayuyama, the flow of the Kawago River, and the 3,000-year-old Great Camphor Tree of Kawago.

My husband and I moved here to enjoy the country lifestyle. Since we moved here, many people have supported us in many ways. Some people gave us advice on Japanese lifestyle, and others gave us goods and vegetables.

I thought I need to return the favor. I was wondering about the best way to return the favor. Perhaps because many people gave us vegetables… I thought “How about growing vegetables by ourselves? How about returning the favor by giving them the vegetables we grow?” Our landlord rented some land for us. In the spring we began to make a small kitchen garden.

We grew peppers, winged beans, mulukhiyah, lemongrass, white eggplants, tomatoes, coriander leaves, basil, and mint. We also grew Thai vegetables. We bought seeds and seedlings within Saga Prefecture. These are vegetables I myself wanted to eat. I was looking forward to cooking Thai dishes with harvested vegetables.

Our neighbors were growing broccoli, cabbage, and bitter gourds in their garden. The summer came, and we could finally harvest our vegetables! It was the time for us to return the favor!

But the people who received our vegetables looked a little perplexed.

We needed to explain how to cook Thai vegetables. We wanted to return the favor to our neighbors, but we had confused them by giving them Thai vegetables. We explained how to cook them. Lightly boil winged beans and add to vegetable salad. Slice lemongrass and you can eat it raw. Coriander root is also edible…we explained a lot.

At first I didn’t understand how they felt. It is very easy to cook these vegetables. I didn’t understand why I had to explain it every time I gave them our vegetables.

A little later on, I realized that these vegetables, while familiar to me, who is Thai, are unfamiliar vegetables in Japan. I finally realized that. I hope everyone will grow to love Thai vegetables. I hope Thai vegetables will become common vegetables for Japanese people someday.

Author name: Noi
Hometown: Bangkok, Thailand
I live in Wakaki-cho, Takeo City, Saga Prefecture, together with my Japanese husband, raising our child.
In Thailand, I used to do art and publication-related work.
I have a Kyushu Special Zone Guide-interpreter’s license (in Thai).