Post # 358 My Favorite Thigh Food

April 3, 2015 at 8:56 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Several years ago, just after my wife and I separated, I decided to take a “long” vacation.  I took two weeks off and spent part of it just bumming around home.  Part of it I spent visiting my family back in Arizona.  I hadn’t seen them for several years due to work schedules, finances, etc.  I spent most of the time with my dad and we reconnected in ways we hadn’t been able to for many years.

We had a great time.  We rode his truck all around the craggy mountains I’d hiked and climbed as a kid.  We visited special fishing holes of his.  He fished while I enjoyed the sound of water lapping at the shore.  We toured my old home town as he described the changes from expansion and the changes from disasters.  We sat around the fire pit as he slowly rotisseried a huge rack of beef ribs.  We got quietly buzzed together, him with beer and me with wine, talking way into the morning.

My brother and I spent a lot of time together, too.  We visited places we’d played growing up.  We went to old swimming holes that were now non-existent.  We went to our favorite places on the Colorado River.  We watched the sun set sitting on the hood of his Jeep drinking sodas (since we were driving) and waiting for a train to come by.  My brother loves trains.  Always has, ever since he was four.

One of my favorite experiences was when I got to have lunch for the first time with my best friend.  She and I met when she was 40 and I was 13.  We were kindred spirits and bosom buddies almost from the first moment.  I used to tell her all the stories I imagined, and she gently guided me to adulthood.  This was in the 70s and no one worried about what “might be going on.”  One reason was that she was such a sweet person, no one could ever suspect her of anything.  The other reason was anyone who looked at us could see there was an almost mystical connection between that was rare and precious and not to be messed with.

So when I called to ask her to lunch, she accepted immediately and asked, “Do you like Thigh Food?”

“Thigh Food?” I replied, thinking chicken or pork, and not coming up with any answers.

“Yes, it’s Asian.  We have a new restaurant in town that specializes in Thigh food.  I can’t get anyone to go with me.”

“I love Thai food, ” I said.  “I eat it all the time back home.”

“Oh, good!  You can show me what to order.”

I lived about 25 minutes from her, and I think I chuckled for twenty of them.

We’d already seen each twice since I’d been home, but this was our first chance to have lunch together alone.  I let her drive since she knew where we were going.  Our conversations could be pretty far ranging, but most of this one was taken up with questions about my travels and traveling experience.  I haven’t been to Thailand except on a long stopover going from Sydney, Australia to Paris.  When I checked in with my flight from Bangkok to Paris, I was given a free upgrade to first class, and I gotta tell you.  Thai International Airlines at that time in first class was beyond amazing.

So I was telling her about that when the waitress came to our table.

“Let me order for you,” I said.  “I know what you’re going to like.”

I ordered Chicken Pad Thai for her, and I got Fried Calamari Salad.  I also ordered Thai Beef Jerky for an appetizer.

Our drinks came, and very soon after, the appetizer.  I think I may have told you about Thai Beef Jerky before, but let me refresh your recollection.  It’s good quality beef, usually a roast, but not a fatty one, that’s been cut into half inch thick strips about a half inch wide and one inch long.  It’s marinated in lime juice and salt cooked in a hot oven for about a half hour, stirring and adding more lime juice every ten minutes.  The result is a tangy jerky bite that’s wonderful.  She ate most of it.

Then our plates arrived.  She looked at the mound on her plate.

“I can’t eat all this,” she said flatly.

“Don’t worry, it’ll keep.  Eat what you want and take the rest home.  It’s basically chicken, veggies, and noodles.”

She took an experimental bite and her face lit up.

“That’s delicious!”  Then she tucked in with gusto.

I was eating my salad while the calamari was still hot when I had a thought.

“You need to try this,” I said, holding out my fork with a ring of calamari.

“What is it?”

“I’ll tell you after you try it.”

She ate it and pronounced it wonderful.

“Yeah, pretty much anything deep fried is good,” I said.  “It’s squid.”

“What?  I ate squid?”

“You liked it, too,” I teased.  “Have some more.  There’s plenty.”

She ate a couple more pieces and got used to it while I told her about the first time I ever had calamari in Naples, Italy.  When I ordered it, at my teammates’ urging, I watched the chef walk over to the edge of the causeway the restaurant was situated on and haul up a basket from the water from which he took a live squid.  I didn’t see the details, but I saw knives flashing quickly and heard the oil sizzle just moments later.  Within minutes of having ordered it, I had a plate of fried calamari that had been swimming in the ocean just minutes before.  It tasted wonderful!

We went back to our lunches and by the time we were done, my calamari had cooled off to its normal rubber-like consistency.  So I offered her another piece.

“Here, try it now.”

She smiled and took it eagerly and I watched her face change as she ate it.  “What happened?”

“When it cools, it turns to rubber.  So always eat it as quickly as you can when it comes to the table.  And if you ever get a fresh plate that’s rubbery, send it back because it’s not fresh cooked.”

We talked some more about Thai cooking, and life in general then went back to her place where we talked to sun down and the moon up.

As I was driving home, I remembered her earlier comment and was glad I was able to introduce her to Thigh food.

chicken pad-thai

Enjoy

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