Sorry to report, but I’m suffering from a bit of post-vacation depression. Okay, maybe “depression” is a bit too strong a word, but in the nine days I’ve been back, I have had more than my fair share of “Oh, this isn’t any fun… I wish I were still back in New York on holiday” thoughts.
Deciding to not be gripped by this emotions, I tried to take the detached, Buddhist approach and examine it. What was at the root of these feelings? The answer, I realized, was food.
Above, Sukhumvit Soi 38, the nighttime “Food Street” near my house.
Upon examination, I concluded that one of the things I like most about any place is the food. I could write a lot more about this (and possibly will in a future entry) but I think that food is really the tent pole of a culture to which I tether my experience and perceptions.
As I think about places I’ve lived and places I’ve loved (to visit), specific food memories come to mind. These usually revolve around not just certain dishes, but even specific restaurants or vendors where I had especially good versions of those dishes. The sauteed mushrooms with garlic at Cha Cha Cha in San Francisco. The gyoza at Rising Dragon in Ueno district, Tokyo. The bistecca alla fiorentina at Ristorane del Fegioli in Florence. The bánh xèo at that little outdoor restaurant in Saigon, the name of which I now forget and would have to look up. The truffled egg toast at ‘ino in New York.
See? Specific food memories. Things that, if I’m back in that town, I feel that I absolutely must eat them again. But when it comes to life here in Krungthep, I’m at a loss to name any specific “must eats”. Please understand, I really enjoy Thai food and, as Tawn put it, when I’m away, I miss eating Thai food when I am away from Thailand. But other than the sticky rice and mango place at the corner of Thong Lor and Sukhumvit (the best in town, I assure you), northing immediately pops into my mind.
This strikes me as a problem, a problem which may actually go a long way towards explaining why, when I have guests in town, I struggle to figure out the best places to bring them to eat. There isn’t anything that jumps to the top of my mind, shouting “Must eat!”
This also strikes me as an opportunity, a task to which I must devote at least some of my attention in the days and weeks to come. I need to brainstorm and if necessary, explore some more, in order to start building my list. I may already know of some places and all that is required is some gentle nudging to my memory. But I may need to start looking and tasting to see if I can build that list of “must eat” places here in the Big Mango.
What about you? What foods and places are on your “must eat” list?