my apologies to the girl who ate everything; i've been reading through her archives and i'm feeling very...assimilated. look at this as a tribute :) everyone else, bear with me.
i was a little disoriented yesterday; not only was i fasting, but apparently a whole building was demolished over the weekend, and i just noticed it. or not noticed. it's not like i spent much time there (it used to be a bowling alley and marty's mexican restaurant, which was more of a bar than anything), but it was a part of my landscape for like, decades, and now that it's gone, there's literally a hole in my visual map. driving was fun with me yesterday, ha. the fasting was for religious reasons; yes, i'm a calf-lick, but not rigidly so--to badly paraphrase things overheard in new york, i just believe in god like i just believe i have a brain, even though i've never seen it. and rarely use it. but look, i'm making my fingers wiggle, joy of joys. there are some traditions/rituals/edicts i do observe--fasting is one of them. there are other reasons to do it: to cleanse my body internally, to understand what it is like to go without, to suffer a fraction of what others less fortunate suffer through everyday. sadly for me, most of my thoughts went like this most of the day:
doughnuts. chocolate. chocolate doughnuts. mmm. cheese.
but you know, church-sanctioned fasting ain't what it used to be--when i was a kid, it was one partial meal, no meat, and no enjoying it either, damnit. for everyone. and generally, partial food abstinence from ash wednesday until good friday, with full abstinence from meat on fridays. now it's only for those of sound health of ages 14 through 59, and there's a whole complicated schedule of dieting edicts that basically say you can eat anything now, but please avoid red meat occasionally, okay? please? frankly, this whole thing of giving up stuff for lent is getting too easy, too ludicrous. my friend's mother gave up watercress. watercress, i said, with a self-imagined single eyebrow raised (imagined because i can't). my friend nodded solemnly. "oh, believe me," she said. "it's a problem." huh. i had a conversation with my cousin that went like this (me, i'm the one with the questions and the yellin'):
"what are you giving up for lent? rice?"
"nooooooooo! i can't give up rice!!!!! i'm filipino, it's unheard of."
"you like salty things--what about champoy?" <--dried preserved plums rolled in salt, sugar, and licorice powder
"oh my god, nooooo! i can't. no. absolutely not."
"it's supposed to hurt, damnit, and it's just champoy."
"no, you don't understand. i can't. it's like crack. [brightening] i know. i'll give up chocolate. i don't like it that much anyway."
"THEN IT DOESN'T COUNT!"
so like, everyone gives up stuff they can live without anyway, which sort of defeats the purpose of the exercise, and tells me how weak-willed we all are. i haven't even given up any food items, because i know i'll just fall off the blipping chuckwagon (i have given up other things, though). and i was pretty good on wednesday, even though i was thinking of doughnuts all day, and as i type this i'm eating frozen ganache which is disgusting but delicious. i only had one full meal, at lunch, and a couple of crackers for brekkie and a bunch more for dinner (i will tell you now, ritz® chips are sort of awesome, but not as good as the long gone air crisps). i didn't want lunch to be a balls-out roman orgy of a feast, but i didn't want to eat something mediocre, and i wanted to eat relatively well, so the chocolate doughnuts wouldn't become a reality. i ended up going to ploy, a newish thai-vietnamese restaurant in tamuning, because i was just there this weekend, and really had a craving for their version of pad thai.
i'm not sure if ploy is run by thai people who also cook vietnamese food, but i'll hazard to guess that it's run by vietnamese who also cook thai cuisine. i'm rather in love with the sign in front, which reads PLOY THAI COUSINE which i believe translates to PLOY THAI COUSIN, not cuisine, so now we fondly refer to it as "ploy, my thai cousin's joint" (which, ha, is next door to the render-vous lounge). and, as a non-thai cousin pointed out, it's like they are scheming to make you eat here: it's a ploy to get you to eat more mee krob! despite my suspicions towards its lineage, i have yet to try most of the items on the vietnamese portion of the menu; actually, i haven't even tried most of the thai menu either, so don't consider this a review of the restaurant, please. not yet.
my non-thai cousin and i aimed for the old-school abstinence from meat, and ordered the veggie red curry and the pad thai. i normally order green curries, and when i do eat red curries, i like them sort of medium to fiery spicy hot. (a different) non-thai cousin veto'ed that, so we got mild, which was an absolute shocker to me. no heat. frankly, i really don't know what red curries are supposed to taste like without heat, can someone clue me in? this was not particularly sweet--just the sweetness from the hint of coconut milk and all the bamboo shoots--and had a definite mintiness about it at first sip, but i couldn't find any sign of mint or basil; it was followed by a lingering lemony-ness, which came from all the lemon leaves floating in the pot amongst the copious bamboo shoots, squares of semi-firm tofu, red pepper strips, and eureka! the now-no-longer-mysterious wild eggplant that i was pondering previously. it's bitter, and seedy (like me!). made an interesting counterpoint to the mellowness of everything else, so i respected its presence, but it wasn't the first thing i dove for after the initial pounce.
i was here for the pad thai. i normally don't order this, because i haven't had that many good versions of it. sometimes it's too oily, the noodles are too mushy, it's just an undersauced, underflavoured noodle dish. seriously, i'm not a connoisseur of thai food, but this is the business--the rice noodles are as close to al dente as you'll come in asian food, all springy and bouncy and not undercooked, it's flavourful because it's filled with a generous amount of fried egg, fried tofu, garlic chives, crunchy bean sprouts, and crushed peanuts (you can get it with beef, chicken or shrimp, too). the sauce is very mild, but i wouldn't call it undersauced; it's not greasy, either. it's very simple, but very substantial, and very, very satisfying. really, i may never find out what else is on the menu, i'll just keep ordering this.
so yes, the good meal meant that the good intentions remained, and i didn't have a chocolate anything all day. i ate an orange, but i really wanted sugar cane and mango because that's what daniel cook had this morning (i know, what am i doing watching a canadian live action show for preschoolers? i can't answer that.), and i am utterly charmed--charmed! i tell ya--by a six year old who talks about himself in third person, is an adventurous eater, can hold his own with a paleontologist, learned the olympics' greatest winter sport that doesn't involve high powered rifles, and inadvertently figured out a main component of creating suitcase bombs.
and so that night, i ate dry crackers, spat crumbs with ev'ry word spoken, was nice to old people and dogs, thought about the good in the world and not so much about the bad, watched "american idol" with a modicum of sympathy and sincerity in my heart (instead of the normal snark and disingenuousness--the ear bleeding can't be helped), and then dreamt about hot chocolate and bagels all night long. mmmm.
next to the old cinemas,