Born from a family of farmers, Lakana was born and raised in Isaan—Thailand’s northern countryside. From an early age, she helped her family with the planting of vegetables, herbs, and rice, which they would sell in her village’s local market. She would wake before sunrise, spend the early morning hours helping her mother and great-grandmother prepare the meals to feed the family and co-workers, and sell the rest at her school’s market before going to class. Following school, she would spend the evening hours in the rice fields, harvesting her family’s farm. After the harvesting was done, it was time for she and her family to prepare the evening’s meal.
Life in the Thai countryside, where traditional wealth was scarce, required everything to be done by hand—no stove tops, no refrigeration, no freezers or other trappings of modern luxury. Instead, what constituted “groceries” was what was provided daily on the farm, tended to by Lakana and her family from the garden to the chicken coop, and then cooked over open fire, in a pit built of wood from nearby trees.
Through generations of experience, Lakana learned the joys of cooking and celebrating with family and friends. Something seemingly simple, like preparing of a meal, was an intensive and time consuming process—a process easily lost on many of us with today’s hectic, busy schedules. To eat Lakana’s dishes is to take a pause, to be transported to the time and place in which she found her passion for food, and to partake in her sharing of the traditions passed on through her family for generations. Except this time, it’s with you, your family, and friends.