Jim Thompson was an American architect who served in Thailand during WWII. He is the man responsible for the popularity of Thai silk worldwide, the man who saved it from the threat of extinction. But while on a trip to Malaysia in 1967, he went out for a stroll never to be seen again. This mysterious disappearance fuelled various theories, with one about him being a victim of a hit-and-run car accident, and the other which surmises that he was eaten by a tiger or lion in the jungles of Malaysia. Still another, more exciting, theory is that he was murdered or captured by spies.
He joined the various rooms that fronted the klong (canal) with a terrace. We removed our shoes and deposited our bags (no pictures allowed inside the house) and followed an English speaking guide up a teak staircase. Everywhere you looked were antiques and treasures from the East and West: a crystal chandelier hung from the drawing room, there were rare Chinese porcelain pieces, an extensive art collection, Burmese images stood in niches that were once windows, colorful silk cushions strewn about. In his library and bedroom remained some of Jim's personal possessions and artefacts, left behind as if still waiting for their master to come home and use them once again.
He loved to entertain and one can only imagine the extraordinary characters that walked through those black and white tiled floors at the entrance. As we walked through the house, I felt a slight sadness and silently wished he were still alive. He would have been an interesting fellow to meet!
kuaytiaw phàt thai
As if the tom yam kung wasn't enough, we had to have the Green Curry with Eggplant and Chicken or kaeng khiaw-waan. Now, woah! Hot doesn't even begin to describe this dish. You know how you can't pull yourself away from a car wreck? Yup, something like that. All it took was more rice and alternating bites of the sweet and tangy pomelo salad. I wondered briefly if I would ever regain full use of my tongue. But the temporary discomfort is really such a small price to pay for such an ambrosial dish, don't you think?
Ahhh, the pièce de résistance. These could possibly be the two most delicious mango desserts this side of the hemisphere. They were the perfect sweet ending, kind of like a soft, velvety cushion for our tongues and palates. Refreshing and so so comforting. Khao niaw ma-muang , that's the tongue-twisting name for what is fresh ripe mangoes served with sticky rice sweetened in coconut milk. Ma-muang, that's the Thai name for my most favorite fruit in the world. We also had some ma-muang with sago (or tapioca pearls) in sweet coconut milk. They were delicious and I'm craving for them now as I type this.
After lunch, we continued to explore the grounds, spending a considerable amount of time inside the gift shop. My friends bought pretty silk fabrics and scarves with delicate patterns. I, on the other hand, bought At The Table of Jim Thompson, a cookbook with recipes by the chefs of the Jim Thompson restaurants. I've already bookmarked the recipes I want to try, about 5 of them for starters. Hopefully I do it justice. :)
The Jim Thompson House Gift Shop