Up in the mountains, only a few kilometers outside of Chiang Rai, a potter’s paradise can be found: Doy Din Dang– this Thai alliteration translates into red clay hill.
I never write about anything other than food… food that I experience while I travel. My passions in life feel very singular. I like to eat and I like to explore the world. Food is the perfect vehicle for that too, because everyone’s doing it! In every country, every town, every quarter, every corner, and on every street of the Earth, you can find people eating. I can do it by myself or with a group of friends. In the market or at my desk. Familiar or unfamiliar dishes. Food gives me the opportunity to meet everyone, because everyone can relate to food. I can talk to anyone at any time and feel comfortable that we can maybe spark up a conversation about this easy topic. It gives me access to everyday local life. I love museums and art, or any of the other cultural aspects people seek out when they travel…but honestly food encompasses them all and can be found in every realm. If I weren’t traveling via my mouth, I’m not sure what would keep me interested every day!
Which leads me to the glorious art up in the hills of Northern Thailand. The creator of these beautiful pieces of of pottery is by a man named Somluk Pantiboon. He studied in Japan and worked on his skill for years with a master in Kyushu. My heart normally skips a beat when I see certain food items prepared with a perfect sear, or an unblemished ripe piece of fruit, or a lobe of foie gras awaiting terrine-ification. Sometimes you just want to bite your lip and hold your breath at the sight of summer’s first corn, or the season’s first cherries.
But as I entered the quiet grounds of DDD, my heart made the familiar palpitations normally reserved for food feelings. I walked around and around, circling past the same vases dozens of times. I stood in the courtyard watching the sun move along the stone ware, shifting the shadows and changing the intensities of the earthy hues of the art (the artist insists on using only natural resources to create aesthetic textures and colors on the products). The courtyard is like Mother Earth’s workshop if she had tiny hands and a potter’s wheel. Everything feels so rich, so lush, so primal.
I sat and stared in awe for what felt like minutes but was more like a few hours. To see someone’s passion manifested into such beautiful objects is one of the small pleasures in life. I think I liked the pottery so much because in a sense, it’s like cooking. It’s creating something for someone elses’ enjoyment. And many of the items were created as table wares: vases, glasses, serving dishes, plates. If you’re not creating food, you may as well be creating something stunning to serve it on!
If you’re a lover of food, or art, or nature, Doy Din Dang combines all three. With some wet earth, a wheel and some skilled hands, a piece of art is created that in turns allows someone like me or you to present our art in a more beautiful way. A home cooked meal served on a DDD platter is like the culmination of art and love, concentrated and delicious. Eat up.