The Queen of Thai Desserts: Maria Guyomar de Pina

Constantine Phaulkon (Louis Scott) and Maria Guyomar de Pinha (Susira Naenna) in historical soap “Bupphesaniwat.” (image from http://www.khaosodenglish.com)

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.

 

The residence of Constantine Phaulkon and Maria Guyomar de Pinha (Baan Vichayen), in Lopburi, Thailand. From Wikipedia
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.

 

The Siege of Bangkok. Image taken from Wikipedia

​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.

 

Khanom Mor Gang (Baked Custard-ขนมหม้อแกงถั่ว) was likely adapted from a Western custard using local ingredients: duck eggs for chicken eggs, coconut milk for milk or cream, and palm or coconut sugar for cane sugar.

 

Foi thong (Thai script: ฝอยทอง) are strands of egg yolk dropped in to a jasmine scented sugar syrup. The original Portuguese dish is called “fios de ovos” (egg threads). Click on image for a recipe

 

Thong Muan are made of a batter of rice flour, sweetened coconut milk and black sesame seeds, cooked on a round griddle into a wafer-thin pancake which is then quickly rolled and cooled. Because ‘thong’ means gold in Thai, presenting Thong Muan as a gift, is a wish for wealth.

 

Tong Yod means continuous wealth. It is made of egg yolk and flour just like Tong Yip but is dipped into hot jasmine syrup by dropping them from the tip of the finger. It looks like a gold drop and symbolizes continuous wealth that is sustained forever.

 

‘Tong’ in Thai means gold and ‘Yip’ is to pick up something. Tong Yip means whatever you pick or touch turns to wealth. This dessert is made from egg yolk and flour then cooked in sugar syrup scented with jasmine. It looks like a roughly shaped flower or a star when molded in a cup.
Previous Post
Rice Science: Gelatinisation
Next Post
Guest Blogger: An Interview with Charinya Ruecha of @charinyas_kitchen

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Recipes

Soy Milk From Scratch

0
When I came to Australia some 40 odd years ago. My family ended up in a little rural Victorian town…trying…