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One year (and one week) of a Thai-themed marriage

July 25, 2011

Last Sunday was the one year anniversary of our awesome Thai-themed wedding.

Our Awesome Thai-themed Wedding - July 17, 2010

After a bit of reflection, Jamie and I realized that, although we’re pretty far removed from Thailand for the moment (or even Thai Town in Los Angeles, which is where most of the Thai elements of the wedding came from), our first year of marriage was still peppered with tidbits of Thailand.

Some of these tidbits we’ve already mentioned on the blog, like our awesome and somewhat spur-of-the-moment trip to Thailand in January, and the 40 Thai baht that got Jamie out of a sticky situation with traffic cops in Kinshasa.

Last weekend, we celebrated our first year of marriage with some essential elements of Thailand: lemongrass, Thai basil, and massage.

Thai Basil. Photo by Cookthinker on Flickr,

 On Saturday night, Jamie and I hosted a party at our friend’s house to celebrate our anniversary with a wonderful group of Kinshasa friends.

The signature drink of the evening, a drink that Jamie and I had invented a few months ago, was inspired by some of the unique flavors of Thai cuisine. We call it “The Bounty of Paul’s Fertile Garden,” because the lemongrass and Thai basil came straight from our friend Paul’s yard. This recipe has been rigorously tested for your tasting pleasure; please do try it at home.

The Bounty of Paul’s Fertile Garden


  •  Water
  • Sugar
  • Lemongrass leaves (fresh is best, but dried works, too)
  • Absolut Citron vodka
  • Fresh Thai basil leaves
  • Fresh Thai basil flowers (for extra fancy garnish)

Boil water. Remove from heat. Add a bunch of lemongrass. For a little bit of water, use a little bit of lemongrass. For a bunch of water, use a bunch of lemongrass. While water is still hot, add some sugar to taste. If you like really sweet drinks, add a bunch. If not, don’t add much sugar, or skip adding sugar altogether for more of a martini taste.

Let the lemongrass tea steep for a while, at least 10 minutes. At this point, you could actually just drink the concoction as tea. In Congo, people often drink lemongrass tea if they have a cold or a flu.

Put lemongrass tea in the fridge and let it cool. At this point, you could also just drink it as a refreshing iced tea.

But if you want to make a real “Bounty”, the next step is to add vodka. We like a 3:1 ratio of tea to vodka.

Now, add a few Thai basil leaves and muddle (like a mint julep). Garnish with a sprig of Thai basil flowers, for posh-ness.

And voila! A drink that captures the essential flavors of any Thai dish (minus the fermented fish sauce or the chili peppers… although that might make an interesting addition…)

The measurements aren’t exact, they’re mainly just to taste. We usually make a big batch of lemongrass tea, add the vodka and serve in a pitcher.

The next day, on our actual anniversary, to continue with the Thai theme, Jamie surprised me with a trip to Le Royal Thai wellness center for hour-long, full body, completely authentic traditional Thai massages… given by authentically Thai ladies who were authentically merciless (Thai massage is not for the faint of heart).

No, we didn’t fly back to Bangkok for this. We didn’t even leave our neighborhood. He had discovered a real-life Thai massage parlor in Kinshasa.

I was sore at least until Tuesday at least. And it was fabulous.

We then went home and attempted to make a fancy Indian dinner of Tandoori chicken, carrot raita, and naan. We cooked for a good 3 hours or more…

And we failed. Miserably.

Jamie and I are usually pretty good cooks and like to try new recipes. Our special Indian anniversary meal must have been the worst dish we’ve ever tried to make. The chicken was way overdone, the naan burned itself into a crunchy black mess on the baking sheet, and something must have been wrong with our cardamom seeds because they left the carrot raita with the distinct aftertaste of dirt.

It was bad. And kind of hilarious… the next day.

I think the main problem is that we attempted to break the theme by making an Indian dish instead of a Thai one.

Thai herbs and spices

Jamie and I took a cooking class in Thailand in January and were excited when we came back to Kinshasa to find, after a bit of searching, that most of the main herbs and flavors in Thai cuisine were available and fresh.

After the recent blow to our culinary self-esteem, we made it up to ourselves with a delicious Thai dinner on Friday night. We made spicy cucumber peanut salad and Tom Kha Gai, a coconut milk and lemongrass soup with chicken, definitely one of our favorites.

So, after our first year of marriage, we have learned that our lives are still somewhat Thai-themed, even in Congo.  Beyond that, we’ve also learned that packing up all your things and moving to a foreign country almost directly after your wedding is one way of getting to know your new spouse really, really well under circumstances that are like nothing either of you have ever experienced before.  And if you still both love and like each other… great!  (We still do).

However, our tag line for this blog is “Life as newlyweds… in the heart of Africa.”  So, now the burning question is, after one year of marriage, are we still considered newlyweds?  Or do we need to change the tag line?

Let’s have a vote, becuase I want to use the awesome vote feature that WordPress has.


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