Yesterday afternoon I stopped at a fruit stall to pick up a late-afternoon sliced guava snack.
The vendor, who always seems to recognize me, was in the middle of tossing the fruit in a bag when along came a frenzied, weighed-down, English-speaking backpacker shouting the name of a skytrain station nearby. I jumped in and offered directions. As the backpacker rushed off, the fruit vendor and I exchanged a quick smile and shrugged. Tourists.
It’s certainly not all the time that I understand what is going on around me here, although it does occasionally happen that I am “in the know” the longer we live here. I am grateful for the rare instances in which I know the directions, or catch a joke, or simply understand the correct way to order or queue up for food.
It is precious to feel a part of something in this culture that is so different from my own. Such is the case with these commercial holidays that have been thoroughly embraced by urban Bangkok residents. Although I claim no strong affinity for Valentine’s Day, I love the sight of teenagers buying flowers and chocolates for their sweethearts and the general light-heartedness that comes with a holiday so thoroughly wrapped in pink and red.
I feel fortunate to be a part of the fun today, and feel comfort in the knowledge that, when I see people poring over the greeting card aisle at lunch today, it is something I fully understand. We can exchange a quick smile and shrug. Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding
- 4 cups 1-inch cubes egg bread with crust (about 6 ounces)
- 3/4 cups raspberries (frozen, thawed will work)
- 1 1/4 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, divided (I used 50% cacao Ritter chocolate bars, chopped)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, divided
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- In six greased (1- to 1 1/4 cup) ramekins or an 8×8 glass baking dish layer the bread cubes, raspberries, and 3/4 cup chocolate chips. (Start with about 1/3 of the bread cubes, topped with half of the raspberries and half of the chocolate, topped with another layer of the bread cubes, etc. I reserved a couple raspberries to sprinkle over the top.)
- Whisk 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 cup milk, and cocoa in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Add remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Gradually whisk in remaining 1/2 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk. Whisk eggs, egg yolk, and sugar in medium bowl to blend. Whisk in chocolate-cream mixture. Pour over bread mixture. Let rest for 1 hour in the refrigerator to allow bread to absorb some custard.
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake puddings until set in centers, about 35-40 minutes. (I found that these were finished baking just before the 35 minute mark in my oven.)