What is Riamese Cuisine?

Riamese cuisine is an experimental genre of food rooted in a combination of food I’ve tried in my travels, the Thai, American and other international foods I had growing up, and informed by food science and my personal preference in terms of sweet, sour, salty, aroma pairings, serving temperature, and doneness. It’s an authentic representation of my experiences and the lens through which I view food. It usually starts with classic, traditional, even nostalgic dishes, and reimagines them in form and flavor, to fit a theme.

To use a musical analogy, it’s a eclectic genre that freely borrows inspiration by others to create:

  • Covers/Remixes - This usually takes some theme, such as a a jazz theme, to reinterpret other songs. This can take the form of trompe l’oeil, or other constraints, such as Thanksgiving themed, or microwave-only cooking, or 3 ingredients, or vegan themed.

  • Mash-ups - Taking two or more ideas and interweaving them, such as the lyrics for one song with the beat to another, or vice versa. Some dishes borrow ingredients from one dish, a form factor from a second, and a ratios from a third.

Food science and history informs that process in the way music theory, understanding of beats, keys, chords, and harmony, as well as historical musical styles can be leveraged to make a new song. Also, in the same way some songs only make sense in the context of an entire album, some dishes are developed through the context of a single themed dinner party, such as a dinner where every course is cooked in a microwave. At times, the dish is designed for a particular serviceware (e.g. plate, straw, glass, coconut shells) due to functionality, material, color, etc.
Furthermore, while not universal, dishes are biased towards the interactive, the bite-sized, finger foods, with a contrast of textures, and a balance of sweet, tangy, salty, and umami, and either classical flavor pairings or occasionally uniting ingredients with common aroma compounds, or chemistry.

Things Riamese cuisine ignores or avoids:

There’s no “all-natural” “no MSG” “gluten-free” “no chemicals” “No GMO” “organic” here. The ingredients won’t all be things you can pronounce, microwaves may be used.

While locally grown, in season and sustainably sourced ingredients are appreciated, it’s not a focus. Generally the aim for low-stress grass-fed ruminants and locally grown in-season produce for flavor purposes, but not environmental or ethical purposes. If a canned or frozen ingredient works better, it may use that.

It’s not inherently cheap, easy, healthy, or quick. Some may be, but it’s not a goal in general, and occasionally some meals will be centered a theme incorporating those goals.

It's not high brow. There may be expensive or rare ingredients, but there's also no need to use organic or "unprocessed" ingredients. It's just as likely to be inspired by street food, buffet or mall food and home cooking as fine dining. The goal is fun and self expression rather than self-aggrandizement.

It’s not authentic or traditional. While understanding what’s “authentic” often serves as a starting point, the end result almost never is. It uses authenticity as a way to tap into nostalgia and ideation, as a jumping off point for novelty to add surprise, and as a constraint to bolster creativity.

It doesn’t usually mix meats or texture of meats. So turkey burgers use turkey bacon. It generally won’t combine ground beef with braised beef or chopped meat or sliced meat or even finely ground sausage.

It's not alcoholic. The food usually doesn't involve alcoholic ingredients, but if it does, I'll find a way to evaporate it almost entirely, such as dissolving sugar into bourbon, then evaporating the bourbon until the sugar recrystallizes, or use cooked alcohol as sparingly as possible. Dishes like coq au vin may have the wine reduced for 3 hours on its own before using.