20060302

fast times, maximum verbosity, and other roboppy-like ramblings.

five

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.

ploy veggie curry

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.

ploy pad thai

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.

daniel cook

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.

ploy
next to the old cinemas,
tamuning.
649.8424.

12 comments:

Daniel Cook (in flash form) is freaking me out.

You are not bitter and seedy!...I think.

HAHAHAHAHA. I'm honored to inspire ramblings. Some people save babies from burning buildings or bring food to starving people (I don't know these people personally), but I really burrow into people's skulls with mah ramblings! I am proud. :)

While it's probably unfair for me to judge the people giving up stuff for lent since I'm not religious at all, I feel like...a lot of the things people are giving up are stupid. Or. It's pointless and defeats the purpose, as you said. :| I've given up rice for extended periods of time and that wasn't even related to lent. I'M JUST A MASOCHIST. To be honest, I can't think of anything I couldn't give up for a while. Except water. Also, with those sanctioned fastings, don't there also come sanctioned feastings? So calorically it all balances out in the end? The feasting parts sound like fun, I gotta say...

I haven't had Thai food in forever.

As is par for the course, I totally forgot about Ash Wednesday at lunch and had a turkey sandwich. I had planned my dinner for the occasion (toor dal and brown rice and a salad) which was fasting only in the sense that there was no meat - I relished it and wasn't left feeling the least bit hungry. I used to give things up, but in recent years seem to think about it but never actually get around to commiting to it. Someone in my past made a good point - seems like we should commit to doing something rather than not doing something. Of course, I'm so slack that I've done neither.

Hi Santos!

Pad Thai is one of my favourite dishes :) Apparently, there are two ways of frying the noodles - adding a ready-made sauce which turns the flat rice noodles brown or no sauce.

I grew up on the "no sauce" version which my grandma (who was from southern Thailand) cooked and its somewhat similar to this recipe here:

http://importfood.com/recipes/tstirfryNoodle.html

Differences between my grandma's recipe and the one above:

The recipe uses chicken, but we prefer large prawns and calamari.
Salted radish is a must.
Tamarind concentrate is omitted.
Fry fresh tofu strips until lightly brown. The dark sweet soy marinade is omitted.
Enough oil must be used to cook the eggs (which are broken into the wok and covered with noodles).
We add the bean sprouts (which are soaked in water first) right at the end to retain the crunchiness.
Garnish generously with ground peanut, a little sugar, lime juice and fiery chilli powder.
The dish goes well with Japanese cucumber blocks :)

Bon appetit!

yeah, daniel cook in flash form is totally *not* daniel cook. it's like creepy soon-to-be thug boy. who was that artist in the eighties with a thuggy character? the one who did all that pee-wee herman playhouse stuff? not gary baseman. anyway, daniel cook flash form reminds of me one of his thugmen.

you should have thai food.


cathy, that seems to be the thing now--instead of giving up something, go do something good, something more. although, i think the church's point of suffering is sort of lost in that translation. we're supposed to suffer like christ did, even just a little bit, and i don't think his suffering was from 28.9% APR interest and a bloated overdraft. but, to get off that point (which i don't necessarily agree with), you are actually doing something, you're weaving again, which doesn't sound like much but you are perpetuating an ancient craft, and maybe you'll buy your supplies from women in third world countries or sell off some of your wares and give the money to charity. or something like that. wow, this robynesque verbosity is really contagious.

stormiii, your grandmother's recipe sounds great! i don't know if i really noticed the tamarind paste in this version. i will definitely try out your recipe one day, once i work up enough energy to start fryign stuff.

Is it funny that "robynesque verbosity" isn't really robynesque verbosity...or...something...

...OH MY GOD, I JUST DID IT. I JUST DID THE...THE THINGY...SOMETHING...

AGAIN...

AHGASGDASHG!

I didn't pay attention during the 80s. Just sat on the couch and watched cartoons.

[soothing tones, soothing tones] it's only robynesque in the green bananas universe. 'cause i can normally fit three of my posts into one of yours. in the end though, you only have one to three of mine, so who is truly more succinct?

man, we both have to go off wheat for awhile, i think.

No kidding -- I ate at that restaurant when I was staying in Guam to get my Japanese work visa. Boohoo! I had so much fun there scarfing down Mexican fare for the first time in a year...

Oh I like a good ramble.

I'll have to recommend the "Father Ted" comedy series about a bunch of crap priests in rural Ireland. There's a a great giving things up for lent episode (booze, smokes, and roller-blading).

It's generally not a bad thing to give things up every now and then, makes you realise you have control over them and and snaps you out of a habit (no not now Sister Mary). Being an Anglican (Episcopelean?) once we didn't have to worry about that but we did always get to sing the "lent song" (hymn 92?) which was a cracking good dirge of sufferin'

Fourty days and fourty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild
Fourty days and fourty nights
Tempted and yet undefiled

Rocks thy pillow, earth thy bed
etc etc


And on a giant organ, noe of this happy clappy guitar and keyboard nonsense.

Anyway I'm giving up Mel Gibson movies.

somehow i think that falls under the "but it doesn't hurt" category.

evil jonny, marty's is still around, it just moved. i wonder how the food is these days.

hi santos- daniel cook, an interesting character for sure... have you seen cooking with luis on noggin? we love luis! :)

maia, thank you for the luis tip--he's awesome. i'm going to try his empanada recipe soon :)