Some of you may think I’ve got a lot of cheek writing a post about Thai village life which includes a picture of mashed potatoes, super-sized baked beans and a meat pie. Trust me… that line-up of great British grub is just a lead up to my story about Aloe vera and a Crocodile tree.
Whenever I’m staying at our village home in Udon Thani I like to occupy myself on some afternoons by cooking an evening meal. On this particular day it was to be the meal in the top photograph.
The pie comes pre-cooked and so I microwave it alongside baked beans but the mash potato is not out of a packet. I peel spuds, and boil them in a pot on an electric barbecue hot plate. I then drain the water, add milk and butter, and mash the potatoes to a creamy texture. It’s easy to make, tasty and very filling….. and sometimes quite painful.
The last time I made mashed potatoes at our village home I gave those Cadburys Smash Aliens a real good laugh (do you remember them from the TV adverts in the 1970’s). I ended up draining some of the boiling water from the saucepan onto my knee and it was very painful.
When the red-hot water hit my knee I yelped and within seconds Wonderful Wi appeared from nowhere. She must have thought I’d been bitten by something nasty. I explained my cry of pain had been caused by scalding water. Wilai immediately raced off and I expected her to return with a plastic shopping bag full of ice.
What she actually brought over was this. A chunky plant leaf filled with a gel substance. She squeezed the leaf and spread the gel over my scalded knee and straight away a cooling effect kicked in. Wi said the leaf was from what Thais call a Crocodile tree. It looked like some sort of cactus plant to me.
I didn’t know for the life of me know what kind of plant it was. Wilai called it a Crocodile tree but I guessed that wouldn’t be its real name and after a few enquiries I discovered it was an Aloe vera plant and they were growing in our garden.
Aloe vera is widely used in both cosmetic and alternative medicine products and research has proven it to aid the healing of first to second degree burns and some skin conditions. My knee healed without any blistering or scarring.
It’s amazing the Aloe vera plant and its magical gel has probably been used by Thais for hundreds of years and yet many of us in the western world are still unconvinced or unaware about its range of benefits. However, I wonder when Thais will latch on to the benefits of a huge serving of creamy mash potato.
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