pad thai is fucking delicious

“Pad thai?”I asked? My new found illiteracy is odd, as this is the first time I have been in a country with a completely new alphabet. The streets are lit with these characters, running vertically up the sides of buildings like something out of blade runner.

Various stallls and restaurants are open and reminiscent of those in South America, simple with their wide open doors and cool cracked concrete floor. However I walk past these, (remembering as I stride that I need to take. Y antimalarials) and continue to the street stalls.

My eyes probed the pile of fish meat in front of one of the stalls as I asked the tired woman running it if she had pad thai. My stomach gurgles as I look at the heap of fish. I love the taste of fish and was curious to try, but an experience with bad ceviche in Bolivia has put me off raw fish from street stalls. Perhaps another day.

She pointed to the stall next to her and I walked over. About twelve bowls covered the surface of the stall, scratched plastic and dented tin held dried shrimp, some brown paste i thought was peanut or tamarind, lemongrass, dry noodles and other unidentifiable foody bits. “Pad thai?” She smiled and pointed to the bowls, whilst plucking on a neat little face mask. She pointed at a few of the bowls, I pointed to the one with the shrimp and laughed while her husband, who had just emerged from the crates of food behind the stand, flashed a toothy grin at me.

Her gnarled hands, white and calloused, plucked the bottle of oil from the counter and splashed into the pan, warped and burnt from probably years of use. She grabbed a great big spoonful from the brown bowl and dolloped it in, and a nutty smell billowed out, enveloping me in steam and drawing me closer. She watched the process so closely, but her movements made it seems like she could do it blindfolded. Next in went the stock, and a sheath of clear rice noodles. Her flattened metal spoon clanged against the wok and stirred and folded the rapidly transforming food. Noodles flattened and she threw in spring onions, prawns and bean sprouts. She then plopped in an egg, so fast i didnt hear her crack it, and flipped the whole meal over, on to my weathered pink plate. This has to be one of the best meals that I have ever had.

Textures met flavours, it clashed on the pallette in so many ways, crunch of bean sprouts, sourness of lime wedges, rind and all. Whilst I was eating she plonked a plate of spring onions, more bean sprouts and something that looked like a section of a massive, white artichoke. I pointed to it and she pulled out a bag from beneath the counter- it was the under ripe, massive bud that comes from a banana tree, and i noticed that the white chunks of veg within were actually fetal bananas.

The whole meal cost around 45 baht, which is almost a pound. Sated, I’m off to sleep, with the taste of raw spring onions still on my breath.

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