Something Special

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I — like many of my fellow Bangkokians — am feeling a bit down. The kind of down that doesn’t bear talking about.

So why am I writing a blog post? To tell you the truth, I don’t really want to write a blog post. For something that is better done, funnier and far more likable, you should deffo check out writer/actress Mindy Kaling’s blog: http://theconcernsofmindykaling.com/, because we all need a little bit of inspiration now and then, and where better than from the author of “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” (the answer is yes).

Do you want your inspiration to come from somewhere closer to home? I am nothing if not obliging. Let me do you a favor and direct you to another something special, http://mysousvidelife.wordpress.com/. Is she not adorabun? Someone get this woman a cooking show, stat! Another thing: despite being a “flood refugee”, she is still decorating Halloween cupcakes and figuring out fun things to do with all those shmackets of Ma-Ma noodles lurking in all our kitchen cabinets (no need to front, you know you have them too).

Are you still here? Geez. Well, if you’re not up for something fun and uplifting, I’m your girl. As one would naturally expect, the floods are taking their toll everywhere, including on the sidewalk. Many, many, many of my fave vendors are MIA: the buay loy guy on Mahachai Road; the khao kluk gapi (rice with shrimp paste) vendor in front of Baan Phra Arthit; the Hainanese chicken rice people in front of Great Shanghai; the chicken and bitter melon noodles guy behind Emporium; the Sukhothai noodle guy (why didn’t he call to tell me?) next to Klong Saen Saep; and the guay jab people across from Benjakiti Park. There are more, many more whose absences I have yet to discover and mourn.

 

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These people spent their working lives making us happy; now they are gone, with nothing to mark their absence except maybe a shuttered storefront or, more disconcertingly, nothing at all. They have vanished into thin air.

Then there are the people who are stubbornly sticking it out. They deserve special plaudits, because they are idiots*. Riverside, prey to the fickle lords of high tide? Sign me up! Alongside the beef noodle folks at Nai Soi and the famously taciturn Roti-Mataba is Khao Na Gai Ha Yaek (085-124-5511, open 10-19.00). Just steps down Phra Arthit road from Roti-Mataba, this chicken-and-gravy on rice vendor is quietly packed most lunchtimes, but inspires none of the usual fanfare, which makes it very special indeed. Yes, there is the khao na gai (35 baht), as well as versions with gun chieng (sweet Chinese sausage, 40 baht) or runny fried egg (42 baht), or best of all, both (47 baht). There are also noodles topped with chicken gravy, deep-fried noodles with chicken gravy, and sticky rice with red pork. But the namesake dish is the best.

Wandering down the road at high noon, unable to find ANYTHING I once loved in a landscape that looked familiar but wasn’t, this plate of chicken gravy on rice crowned with torn fresh coriander, fried egg and sweet sticky sausage was a godsend, the best thing I had eaten in weeks. I forgot I wasn’t supposed to be hungry, and ate it all.

*Obviously, I don’t really think they are idiots.

8 Comments

Filed under Asia, Bangkok, chicken, food, food stalls, rice, Thai-Chinese, Thailand

8 responses to “Something Special

  1. Gautam

    I could not resist adding to your woes! You know those catfish in Minburi? Well, many of their cousins today are hybrids of the terrifying African catfish, Clarias gariepinus, and the relatively hi-so Thai Clarias macrocephalus. Don’t even get me started on the former, which is exterminating the fauna of the Ganga delta, and is eating up the sewer rats of Calcutta & Dhaka [and much worse, which I leave to your grisly imagination. I know you have tons,,,,!!!!!!!!]. So, that is going to put you off pla duk for quite some time, if not for a decade, and from Channa & Wallago spp. No more ruam mit there!

    It is interesting that Bengali brahmans eat fish, but hedged in by many restrictions: no snakeheads, no Wallago, not many catfishes, i.e. proscriptions on airbreathers, which are both carnivorous & thrive in stagnant waters. Likewise, no eating pak bung, water ipomea. I wonder what dietary guidelines Thai brahmans follow? How about instead of moping you create a few posts on the world & foods of the royal priests, the brahmans? Not many people realize that the nominally Buddhist Thai court still depends on the services of brahman ritual priests for national rituals, e.g. rice planting. What is the daily life of these priests and their families? Who are they, how do they live and how are they educated? Nothing much is known in the popular literature. Perhaps your fertile pen could uncover lots of marvelous cultural information and pull a lot of people out of the doldrums.

    • An interesting idea; I know almost nothing about Thai Brahmins! That would take a lot of time!
      People focus more on “royal Thai” food, which is a completely made-up category.

  2. Janet Brown

    Okay, Chow–that does it. I want to get on a plane and come back for a little while–at least until the water goes away. There has to be some way to find the money for airfare…I have to see what you’re writing about.

  3. Chicken gravy with egg and sausage? Lordy. I’d have ordered one over rice *and* one over noodles. Glad you can still whet my appetite given the wet situation. xox

  4. I’m surprised there is anything open down by Phra Athit Road!

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