Just got back from the Land of Smiles. I did a lot of that while I was there, and other people reciprocated. I also, unsurprisingly, ate a lot of food. Despite its proliferation, also depressingly at times paired with beer as a kind of backpacker ‘meal deal’, I only had Pad Thai twice. The first time on my first night in Bangkok’s Chinatown, at a streetside stall on plastic chairs with a large cold Chang beer. On this occasion they folded the noodle mixture up into a kind of omelette and served it so. The peanuts and accompanying sauces were on the side, to be added at one’s discretion. The second time was at Yam’s Kitchen on Koh Phangan, and this was a more sprawling, but perhaps more delicious, affair, with all the trimmings artfully arranged around the side of the plate. Contrasting atmospheres too: the first was a vibrant night scene, with vendors and pedestrians jostling alike for alley-space and the scent of fish sauce in the air; the second was a calmer affair, alone, with a glorious pink sunset and the dusky breeze hushing over the waves. Chang beer the only constant.
Other culinary highlights included the barbecued tilapia fish at Lert Ros in Chiang Mai – a literal step away from the front of my hotel – a Beef Pha Naeng at the same Yam’s which was all sweet and sour liquid deliciousness, the food made by ‘Mom’ at the resort where I stayed on the island and, my final meal enjoyed with the boon of unexpected companionship, Khao Soi, a northern curry topped with crisply-fried onions on Ram Buttri road in Bangkok.
All these flavours of red and green chilli, fish sauce, coconut, peanut and lime, could have influenced my palate to the extent I might have been craving more of the same on my return. And yet. I believe in more transitory experiences, as a certain piece of music heard at a particular time cannot have the same effect when re-listened to, so the my eating experience in Thailand shall, for now, stay there too, elbow to elbow on fold-up tables, before a collide-oscope of colour, under the sinking salmon sun.
When I arrived yesterday late morning I was weary, having managed only a restless pair of hours on a lightly padded set of chairs at Macau Airport while screaming children ran amok around the deserted departures lounge. In this instance I fall back on an old favourite, something that requires little thought or imagination, that can be prepared more or less eyes closed which was, more or less, how I was anyway. I have no desire to go into pointless discussions concerning how this simple dish can be served and, apparently, the best way to eat it, on what type of bread, grate the cheese or slice the cheese, what make of cheese, cha cha cha.
Suffice to say: some sort of cheese. I had some in my fridge, bearing a colour that should make a man such as myself, from the home of Cheddar, ashamed. I had bread too, cheap stuff that toasts poorly. And I had chutney, brought back from the Christmas holidays. An unpromising set of ingredients. And yet. The bread toasted the best it could, the cheese melted sloppily: I ate it in less time it’s taken me to write this paragraph.
I lay on my bed with the early afternoon sun slanting in over me and slept like the proverbial.