burping frogs and toilets ::::
In 2001, my parents moved to Songkhla, Thailand for a few months, my dad immersed in a sabbatical at Thaksin University. Eat and I took advantage of their new temporary home, taking almost a month to travel around Thailand then spending Christmas with my parents.
After Eat and I stayed in Phuket (I’ll post about that experience soon), we flew to Songkhla, in the south of the country, near Malaysia, to visit my parents. This area was definitely not touristy, like Chiang Mai or Phuket. The locals looked at us curiously when we wandered into the university refectory for meals, as most Caucasians in Thailand were in Bangkok at the youth hostels or fancy hotels.
The first night we stayed with my parents, it rained practically all night. The gutters were designed such that the gutter on the floor above dripped onto the gutter below, creating a hollow metallic dribbling or plopping sound. Frogs also had croaking contests, starting slow. Faster and faster the croaking would go and stopped when the frogs could croak no faster. Then it started all over. Although not obvious during the noisy rain, dogs also had a similar competition with barking.
All this noise, this raucous rain, blended into white noise after a while. It was frequent, this rain, piling up the humidity for the next day. But at night, it was more refreshing to feel the rain, in the dark, as the land cooled from the day’s harsh temperatures. It was cleansing.
There was an exception when it came to the toilet. When my parents’ upstairs neighbor flushed, there was an audible burble from our toilet. This was the cue to whoever was sitting on the toilet to jump up quickly before having the air bubble from the pipe abruptly surface and subsequently splash toilet water on one’s bottom. Basically, the toilet burped. Obviously, this was discovered serendipitously. Not by me.
One thing I did discover on this trip besides the noise of rain and frogs, and the anxiety of sitting on a timebomb toilet was that I loved fresh coconut. Not that I hadn’t tasted it before. Fresh coconut from a British market or overpriced Hawaiian grocery store is much, much different than fresh coconut in Thailand. I love the creaminess of the rice pudding here from the coconut milk, and the dark purple color contrast of the black rice. Coconut milk mixed with the comfort of rice pudding, the combination is even more comforting than each alone. More comforting than that cleansing water. Much more comforting than competitive frogs and burping toilets.
One year ago: homemade ramen with tonkotsu broth
Two years ago: grilled fava beans
- 1 to 1½ cups water (depending on how your rice is cooking and how loose you want your pudding)
- ½ cup black rice
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted to golden
- 1 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- pinch salt
- In a medium pot, mix 1 cup water, rice and coconut milk, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rice will be tender. If rice gets too dry during last half of cooking, add a little more water to loosen.
- When the rice is tender, add the sugar and salt. Simmer 2 more minutes, or until pudding is desired texture. You can add more water if you want a looser pudding.
- Spoon into two bowls, top with toasted coconut flakes, and serve warm. A drizzle of sweetened condensed milk or coconut cream also makes the rice pudding more of a dessert.