Court Cuisines, Longing and Lamentation in Kap He Chom Khrueang Khao Wan, and Food Heritage

Cholada Ruengruglikit


Department of Thai, Chulalongkorn University



A close reading of Kap He Chom Khrueang Khao Wan reveals that this text could be classified as nirat since it is a verse lamenting the poet’s sorrow when his beloved departed from him. The poet’s praise of her exquisite taste and decorative court cuisines, both Thai and foreign cuisines, is one of the techniques he used to demonstrate his grief in the context. Each dish that impressed him, including some dishes sent to him by his beloved during their separation, caused the poet to miss the incomparable culinary skill of his beloved, leading him into a deep sorrow characterized by more grief, more longing for her, and more desire for her return. The findings in the present study express that the poet not only intended to admire the culinary skill of his beloved, as believed before amongst Thai scholars, but also to use this admiration to hint the change within his love from happiness to bitterness, and more importantly to express his lamentation for how much he missed his beloved due to this change. Moreover, a study of other documents supports that the poet composed this text from his experiences during his three-month suffering in the reign of King Rama I. At present, it is found that most of the court cuisines in Kap He Chom Khrueang Khao Wan still exist in Thai society, and are spread amongst common people as well as within the palace. However, it has also been found that one dish may have more than one appearance or two dishes could have the same name. This requires that the scholars and court cuisine chefs work together to set the standard of these court cuisines in order to perfectly preserve the food heritage.



(Presented in the International Conference – Thai Food Heritage: Local to Global, 4-6 August 2009, Tawana Bangkok Hotel, Bangkok, organized by The Project of Empowering Network for International Thai Studies (ENITS), Institute of Thai Studies, Chulalongkorn University with support from the Thailand Research Fund (TRF))