Maria Guyomar de Pina or Thao Thong Kip Ma (Thai: ท้าวทองกีบม้า) was born in Ayuthuya in 1664 during the reign of King Narai. She came from a family of Japanese-Portuguese-Bengali ancestry and married Greek adventurer Constantine Phaulkon. Constantine rose to prominence at the Thai royal court first as Minister of Foreign Affairs, then a promotion to the modern equivalent of Prime Minister.
For his great achievements King Narai awarded him a great mansion with a chapel and guesthouses, where Phaulkon frequently entertained the French delegation to Siam. During this period Maria was ennobled as a countess of France.
A key characteristic of King Narai's reign were diplomatic missions with Western powers as well as foreign influence in the royal court, much to the dismay of Siamese courtiers. The establishment of French troops and fortresses in Bangkok spurred strong anti-foreign sentiment, directed by Commander of the Elephant Corps, Phra Phetracha (formerly one of King Narai's close aides and confidants). In March 1688, King Narai fell gravely ill and Phetracha seized his opportunity to initiate a long planned coup d'etat; the Siamese Revolution of 1688. Phaulkon (who was resented in court as a foreigner with power and influence) was executed and the French fortress was besieged for 4 months in the Siege of Bangkok.
During the Siege, Maria took refuge with the French troops and even managed to flee Ayutthaya. However at the end of the Siege, the French surrendered her to Petracha in an attempt to maintain a fragile peace. She was condemned to slavery in the Royal kitchens until Phetracha died in 1703.
Despite being freed, she stayed working in the royal kitchens and eventually rose to the position of master cook to the Siamese royal court.
During her time in the Royal Court, Maria was credited a number of new desserts such as Khanom mo kaeng, Thong muan, Thong yot, Thong yip, Foi thong, Sangkaya and Khanom phing. Although it is likely that Portuguese traders had introduced them to Thai cuisine, their popularity was certainly solidified by Maria's work. Maria is credited with having introduced egg or yolk, refined sugar, soybean starch or cassava starch, as well as nuts to Thai desserts. Many of her desserts were a yellow-like gold, considered auspicious in Siamese tradition.
The soap series Bupphaesannivas (Love Destiny) is all the rage these days in Thailand which includes Maria as a key character!
"Bupphaesannivas (Love Destiny)... tells the story of Ketsurang, a modern-day archaeologist who's zapped back to 1660s Ayutthaya following a fatal car accident. She awakes in the body of the beautiful but mean-spirited Karakade, who was cursed to death following her attempt to murder a love rival. Soon Karakade/Ketsurang crosses paths with several real historical figures, from Thai envoys, lords and barons, to King Narai's counsellor Constantine Phaulkon and his wife Maria Guyomar de Pinha, who introduced egg-yolk-based desserts to Siamese cuisine."
Want to know how to make foi thong?
Recipe: Foi Thong (Golden Egg Yolk Threads) ฝอยทอง
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