What is their favourite Thai dish? What dish do they miss the most from their homeland?
On International Women’s Day, let’s salute the many Women Ambassadors of Bangkok! There are 15 in the city, and we are grateful that we could feature 11 of them. These top lady diplomats are strong, dynamic, and unique individuals, who have held notable posts, in varied countries around the world. They could articulate on any subject, but here, we quiz them on something as simple as their taste buds.
H.E. MS EVREN DAGDELEN AKGUN
Ambassador of Turkey
She was born in Ankara and studied International Relations at Agnes Scott College, Georgia, USA. She completed an MA at the College of Europe, Belgium. She joined the MFA in 1993, and served in various positions in Brussels, Tashkent, Washington. She was also head of the EU Dept, and Dep. Dir. Gen. of Policy Planning, MFA, Ankara.
Favourite Food: Thai dishes are heavenly! Definite favourites for me are tom kha gai and larb gai. Turkish cuisine is rich and varied, reflecting the country’s deep history and culture. I miss certain fish dishes especially from the Black Sea, like ‘hamsi’. I also miss ‘manti’ , which are small pieces of dumplings with minced beef served with garlic yoghurt, mint, and paprika sauce.
H.E. MS SATU SUIKKARI-KLEVEN
Ambassador of Finland
She was born in Helsinki, studied a Master of Law at the University of Helsinki, and joined the Finnish Diplomatic Service in 1998. She has worked in various positions relating to humanitarian and human rights issues at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and international organisations. During an educational programme with the UNHCR in the 90’s she helped open a girls’ school in the Taliban-controlled area of Afghanistan. She’s currently the local EU Gender champion, liaising for gender equality with Thai authorities, organisations, and large companies. She speaks five languages, and was appointed Ambassador to Thailand and Cambodia in 2016.
Favourite Food: Among Thai food, I enjoy most fresh vegetables and seafood, especially grilled fish with vegetables. Plus everything with coconut milk and lemongrass! What I miss from Finland are the fresh, local, organic berries with tons of antioxidants, vitamins, the new vegan protein products made of oat,beans, and also the rye and oat bread –all super good and super healthy!
H.E. MS LAILA BAHAAELDIN
Ambassador of Egypt
She was born in Cairo, completed an MA in Middle Eastern Studies, and joined the MFA in 1985 when there were very few women. She worked in Paris, Geneva, Washington, and was the Ambassador to Romania, before moving to Bangkok in 2018. In her career, she dealt with many important issues, but what she enjoyed the most was Human Rights. She was proud to represent her country in many conferences dealing with women’s rights.
Favourite Food: Thai food is amazing! I haven’t tried everything, but I love mango sticky rice, pad Thai, and all the varieties of curries. The Egyptian dish that I miss the most is the molokheya soup, an old, favourite dish that can be traced back to the Middle Ages!
H.E. MS MARY JO A. BERNARDO-ARAGON
Ambassador of The Philippines
Born in Manila and holder of a BA in Political Science and Diploma in International Relations from London, she joined the MFA in 1979. She held various positions in Manila, Brussels, New York and LA before arriving in Thailand in 2015 as Ambassador.
Favourite Food: My favourite Thai dish is pad Thai. I love the salty, sweet and sour taste of the sauce that blends so well with the rice noodles. What I miss most from my country, is the marinated boneless milk-fish, a popular Filipino breakfast dish with rice.
H.E. MS DONICA POTTIE
Ambassador of Canada
She was born in Halifax, holds a degree in Asian Studies, and joined ‘External Affairs and International Trade Canada’ in 1991. She served in China, Jordan, and Cambodia, before heading several important divisions at home, like ‘Democracy and Governance Policy, Development Policy and Institutions’, and then moving to Thailand as Ambassador in 2016.
Favourite Food: My favourite Thai food is massaman curry. I love how well the peanut taste blends with the meat and potatoes to make something really special. The food I miss the most from Canada is Atlantic lobster which, while available here, is too expensive to have often.
H.E. MS ALICIA SONSCHEIN
Ambassador of Argentina
She was born in Buenos Aires, studied a BA in Political Science with a specialisation in International Relations. She also graduated from the National Foreign Service Institute. She speaks three languages, and served in various positions in different ministries. She was also Member of the Presidential Entourage to many countries, like India, China, Mexico, and USA. She was awarded the Knight of the Order of Merit, in Mali and Brazil.
Favourite Food: I love khao pad kra praow, because it’s spicy and delicious. What I miss most from my country is Argentine beef.
H.E. MS ANA LUCY GENTIL CABRAL PETERSEN
Ambassador of Brazil
She was born in Fortaleza, Ceará, completed a degree in Social Communication from Pontifical Varsity, Rio de Janeiro, and a Master degree in International Public Policy from John Hopkins University, USA. She served on many missions abroad, and was Ambassador to Luanda, Angola, then Consul General in New York, before becoming the first Lady Ambassador of Brazil to Thailand last year.
Favourite Food: Regarding Thai cuisine, I love tom kha gai, a chicken and coconut milk soup. I also love som tam, the mango salad, which is a great side dish. From Brazil, I miss beef mainly. It is the taste and the quality of the meat that is so different there.
H.E. MS SANAA HAMAD ALAWAD GOURAFI
Ambassador of Sudan
She was born in Khartoum, grew up in Saudi Arabia, and studied a Master degree in Political Studies. She headed many departments including the Women’s Human Rights Centre, was State Minister for Media and Information, and has written three books on International Relations and Foreign Policy. She served as Dep. Head of Mission in London, before being posted as Ambassador to Thailand in 2017.
I love Thai food, with its charming combination of sweet and sour taste, and many spices. I love tom yum soup and the som tammango salad. I also enjoy Thai sweets!
H.E. MS SUCHITRA DURAI
Ambassador of India
She has an MA in English and an MPhil in Defense Studies. She joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1988, and has served in many countries-Madrid, Buenos Aires, Vienna, and Cairo. After important postings at home, she served as Ambassador to Eritrea, Somalia and Kenya, which she described as challenging and memorable. She moved to Bangkok late last year.
Favourite Food: I enjoy Thai mango and sticky rice pudding. I don’t really miss any Indian dishes, as I carry Indian condiments and personally cook traditional Indian meals at home. However, I do miss Indian mangoes, as their taste and texture can’t be replicated.
H.E. MS RAUSHAN YESBULATOVA
Ambassador of Kazakhstan
She was born in Almaty, graduated from the Institute of National Economy and the Institute of Management and Tourism in Austria. She has been in the Diplomatic Service since 1998, first in Brussels and then indifferent capacities at the UN, New York, and the Embassy of Kazakhstan in USA, before being posted to Thailand in 2017.
Favourite Food: Every dish in Thai cuisine is unique and delicious! My favourite is Tom Yum soup. The dish I miss the most when I am abroad isa traditional dish called ‘Beshbarmak’ made with boiled horse meat or lamb and pasta.
H.E. DR MS EVA HAGER
Ambassador of Austria
She was born in Vienna, and has a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies and Political Science from Vienna University. Arabic is one of the five languages she speaks fluently. She joined the MFA in 1986. Afterpostings in Syria, Tunisia and Algeria she served later as Ambassador to Cyprusand Mexico, before being posted to Thailand as in 2017.
Favourite Food: The Thai dish that I love most, is the fabulous tom yum goong! I like the warmth, spiciness and delicate texture of the soup. Actually, I don’t miss any of my Austrian dishes as my Chef makes them all! In fact, as we celebrate the 150th Anniversary of our diplomatic relations with Thailand, there’ll be opportunities for our Thai friends to taste many Austrian delicacies!