Toward the latter period of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, Maria Guimard (or Maria Gimard, or Maria Guyomar de Pinha), a woman with Portuguese, Japanese, and Bengalese ancestry, is credited with inventing countless Thai sweets. She lived some time during the seventeenth century and inherited her skill from her mother’s Japanese Catholic family, who in turn had acquired most of their culinary experience from Catholic missionaries before fleeing Japan to escape religious persecution.
Guimard had a very dramatic life. Her Greek husband, a colorful advisor to King Narai (1656–1688), was executed for treason, landing her in jail, from which she escaped. She was recaptured, however, and subsequently became a slave in the royal kitchen. Cooking for two kings over several decades, she was eventually honored for her culinary contributions.