Clay Pot contributor Mam Sutheera, whose story The Cost Of Creating A Memory was featured in our Memory Issue, speaks to the team about the importance of elegant food writing

How important is food to you and what are your earliest memories associated with food?

Food has become a part of my identity and a comfort for my soul. My memories associated with food date back to my early childhood. Having grown up in a Chinese family, our whole extended family always sat together on a round table, enjoying an array of different dishes ( at least 5-10 dishes every meal!). I remember my grandpa teaching me how to use chopsticks and the sense of accomplishment I felt the first time I managed to hold it right. My grandma is an amazing cook and frequently indulged me with all my favorite Thai and Chinese recipes like tom yum kung (spicy soup with prawn), stir-fried bok choy with oyster sauce and marinated pork belly. So food, to me, is what connects the family together and evokes the feeling of being loved and cared for.

Do you have a favourite food/cuisine?

My favorite cuisine is French. With my Asian background, I was first exposed to French cuisine during my time in the US, mostly in Michelin-starred type of settings. Such fine dining experiences transported me to a new realm, where I started exploring food and science (molecular gastronomy), flavour combinations and other bold, creative ideas of transforming food. Having tried a few different cuisines, I still feel that subtle flavour profiles and intricate cooking procedures make French cuisine one of the most well-suited cuisines for fine dining experiences.

Why did you choose to write about creating food memories for Clay Pot?

I wanted my writing to reflect my personality. I also thought that it might be fun for readers to get the see through a food critic’s point of view. We share a fairly complex relationship with food. So, it is inevitable that certain food would evoke a certain memory. I hope my story could provide another angle for the issue’s theme of ‘Memory’ in the context of exploring food and dining culture.

What is the biggest challenge you face while writing about food?

Too many recipes and anecdotes pop up in my head! Sorting them out and stringing them together seamlessly into a coherent story is quite challenging.

What are your thoughts on the present situation of writing on food and food culture?

I think the current social media trend drives both writers and readers to produce and consume fast-food type content–where things are mentioned only superficially, and thus, lack poise and charm. We need a community of like-minded writers to restore this much-needed poise and charm in discussing food and food culture.

Why do you think we need to discuss about food and culture?

Food and culture are such fascinating topics which go hand in hand. Food has evolved with the influence of culture. Each recipe reflects the tradition at a certain point in time and now the assimilation of diverse cuisines and interaction of people through food is creating an evolving culture of its own. Both are worth exploring from various perspectives to satisfy our intellectual curiosity.

If our readers want to take a look at more of your work, where can they find it?

Our English-language articles can be found at : http://foodiesjournie.com/category/english/

Sutheera Ratanasirintrawoot (Mam) is a Bangkok-based academic and food blogger. Click here to read her stories on Clay Pot.