Thai Carvings - A Tribute To My Friend
Updated: Oct 19
Out of all the things I get involved with from a professional kitchen-related environment, I get A LOT of feedback when people see my carvings arranged. I get asked all the time on how I did it, how I got started and how do I have that kind of patience to do this. It's actually quite comical with the facial expressions I get when folks mention "patience" and not having it to try! It leaves me chuckling. Really though, this is an extremely enjoyable craft. Yes, it does take patience, time, and the desire to want to continue to keep getting better and better at it. There is so much meditation in this craft that there are times when people will come over to my station and I dont realize they are there because I am so zoned in on what I am doing!
When Im asked what brought me to learn Thai carving, it is not the most pleasant story. In fact, it is horrible. The events leading up to my learning this art form are things that I wouldn't wish upon anyone. I will certainly say though, I never expected Thai carving to be one of a few conservative therapies that I rely on though. Here's my story:
Winter 2014, I was just leaving work to head to my car. We had an icy system that had developed the night before and then a blanket of snow afterwards. I slipped on the ice and had slammed my head on my car and again, upon impact with the ground. I immediately blacked out and don't remember much after that. The person I worked for at the time, had found me unconscious.
When I came to, there wasn't much I could remember. Only that the doctors who treated me, informed me I broke two ribs, sustained contusions to the entire left side of my body, subconjunctival hemorrhage and suffered severe head trauma. As a result, I developed Trigeminal Neuralgia and Chronic Migraines. Next came this massive response to being exposed to fragrances of all kinds, cleaning products, second-hand smoke of all kinds, etc. It all caused this neuro-respiratory reaction that would often leave me almost violently choking for air. My facial nerves would kick in with severe pain and then the migraines would follow right after. It would be a full-force attack of the most excruciating pain no human being should ever experience. I lost significant time from work because of how severe this was. Light, loud sounds, extreme heat, extreme cold, wind, even the simplest action of brushing my hair would cause a massive trigger of pain. There were times the pain was so bad, it would last for several hours!!!
I had fired the first Neurologist who just made my conditions so much more complicated and more painful. By the time I found my second Neurologist, I swear I buckled down and cried. She read my painfully thick medical record and said "I cannot believe they put you through those drugs! I cannot believe she wouldn't listen to you! I would not have provided that kind of therapy. You and me, we are going to get through this conservatively. You are not a candidate for surgery but you are definitely a good candidate for alternative therapies. I am glad you got out when you did." Trigeminal Neuralgia alone causes more cases of suicide than any other medical condition. And believe me, I understand why!
This Neurologist believed narcotics are never the way to treat what I was dealing with. And, I was completely in agreement. I don't like the way I feel when I have had to take them in past. We worked together to find alternative therapies. Simple things like ASMR really helped to target both conditions. Unfortunately, these conditions robbed me of my love of musical performance. I had put in over 25 years of playing primarily bassoon but also other instruments. I can't even go to a music concert without risking neurological flare-ups. After some time researching online, I found Thai Carving and was immediately drawn to Mutita Edible Art and her amazing work with Thai Carving lessons.
Her lessons are quite simple to follow and there are different lessons for different skill levels. I started with garnishes and small hand-sized produce just to get comfortable with the small knife, a Bird's Beak knife. Worked up the courage (quite literally) to graduate to things like cucumbers and small melons. After that, I moved onto larger melons, some as heavy as 40lbs! What began as a form of therapy for me has translated into some amazing opportunities that are presented to me. And also for me to give back to my community with special events and fundraisers by helping to create a special table for who I am working with/for. I never could have imagined some of the opportunities available to me.
Mutita and I became friends through the years. Even with things becoming busy or complicated in the world, I always looked forward to even our brief chats together. Mutita also has given me great advice on how to do future carving demos (once I can get those set up) and has given great insight! I need to win the lottery and find a way to fly out to Australia and properly thank Mutita for everything. She has been a part of my life without even being next to me. So, I create this video and this post as a way to honor my mentor and friend.
If you are interested in learning how to do Thai Carving, MutitaEdibleArt can be found on Facebook, Instagram and on her Youtube channel. To Mutita, thank you so much for your friendship through the years and for helping me hone in this beautiful craft. I am so grateful to have "met" you and you are truly a wonderful woman. ขอบคุณ.