The Summer of Our Discontent

Fish porridge from Khao Thom Pla Saphan Lueng

Fish porridge from Khao Thom Pla Saphan Lueng

I haven’t been posting much lately. If you are my dad or Karen, I apologize that I haven’t updated the blog as often as I should. It’s not because I’m busy. It’s just that I don’t have anything to say.

I’m supposed to be writing a book proposal. This is funny because to me, a proposal means a few short paragraphs hinting at what you will eventually write in a book. My publishers feel differently. They think proposal = actual book.

My proposal so far:


Riveting, right? It doesn’t help that I am so far up my own ass in my quest to do anything other than what I am really supposed to do that I have begun voraciously reading bad fiction, REALLY BAD stuff, like boy bander fanfiction and stuff based on the various elves in “Lord of the Rings” (call me, Thranduil!)  I do not go anywhere and I do not see friends. My only consolation is that I have weathered these periods before. When I was unemployed and sitting on my couch, I went through an Oprah phase — like, a serious one — and was mesmerized by the fascinating world of outback Australian ranching as portrayed in “MacLeod’s Daughters”. Now that I am … unemployed and sitting on my couch, it only seems natural that I would go through this again, and that this addiction to the literary versions of diet Coke would eventually fade away.

Until then, I will be busy stewing in my own self-loathing. Busy times like these call for quick, easy food, food that does double-duty as both comforting and tasty. That kind of food, inevitably, is porridge, or khao thom. Unlike khao thom gub, where the rice porridge is served as pure as the driven snow, waiting for you, dear diner, to sully it with your hand-picked arsenal of stir-fried vegetables, spicy salads, pickles and dried fish, this kind of khao thom comes already packed, sharing space with whatever protein the vendor deems fitting.

At Khao Thom Pla Saphan Lueng (506/2-3 Soi Pranakares, Rama IV Rd., 084-727-8899), the protein of choice is juicy, generous pieces of deep-sea pomfret, plopped unceremoniously into a fish stock-enhanced brew. These pieces vie with salty-sweet morsels of cooked pork, added because too much is never enough for a Thai diner, and a fermented brown bean-based sauce for which this vendor is famous. There is a splash of controversy too — the septuagenarian vendors of rival Sieng Gi claim that the original owner of this rice porridge shop absconded with the brown bean sauce recipe years ago. Now manned by the son, this shop remains in its original location in the popular street food mecca of Saphan Lueng (“Yellow Bridge”), hidden in plain sight behind a “Viroon Ice Cream” sign.

Try it, preferably with a plate of steamed bread dipped in pandan-scented coconut custard (kanom pang sankaya) sold out in front on the sidewalk. And if you find the flavors could stand to be a little bit bolder, the broth in need of a more bracing slap of deep-fried garlic, remind yourself that it’s your own discontent talking, and that it will fade away soon.


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6 responses to “The Summer of Our Discontent

  1. Plenty of garlic, don’t worry…

  2. I’d be willing to give khao thom pla another try based on this review… Is it a BYOG(arlic) kind of place? Haha.

  3. Hilarious and almost comical how much I was able to relate to your situation. Those damn fingers won’t move once they’re on the keyword. Luckily, you’ve found some delicious treats to enjoy some comfort.

  4. Oh dear–I’ll be writing a book proposal too fairly soon. I don’t have access to a good khao thom vendor here. Will have to make do with making it myself. An excellent way to put off writing that book proposal. . . Maybe the deep-fried garlic will help.

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