Banana leaf packaging. (Photo: Pim Techamuanvivit)
Food blogger Pim Techamuanvivit remembers the natural food packaging of her childhood in Thailand. She laments that plastic, styrofoam and staples have increasingly taken the place of natural containers such as banana leaf and bamboo tubes.
TECHAMUANVIVIT: When I was a little girl in Thailand, my favorite street snack, Kanom Krok, was sold not in a styrofoam or paper box like it is today, but in
Those were the original green packaging, local and sustainable. Then plastic became less expensive, and the even cheaper styrofoam arrived. The opportunity to pollute the environment was equalized for all. These days when I go home for a visit, I find fewer and fewer of these natural packages. When I see them, I can't help savoring a little taste of time gone by.
Among the best Thai desserts was Khao Lahm – tubes of bamboo stuffed with sticky rice and coconut milk, sweetened with palm sugar. The tubes are filled with the cooked rice then left to burn in smoldering ash, until everything caramelized and turned deliciously gooey.
These little tricks are quite ingenious. They are simple yet elegant solutions that take advantage of local and renewable resources. Unfortunately, even among these few examples that remain, there are signs of the inevitable. Looking closely, I can see that the thin Kanom Jaak packages are now closed with stapler clips instead of the sharpened sticks. The Khao Lahm in a bamboo tube used to be topped by bamboo leaves folded like a giant cork. It's now covered instead with gaudy plastic.
CURWOOD: Pim Techamuanvivit writes a food blog called “Chez Pim.” To see photos of some of the delicacies she mentioned, go to our website, Living on Earth dot org.
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