Bangkok taste memories: my hood

This is a typical lunch from my neighbourhood near Soi 1 and why I love Bangkok, Thailand.

I order a lovely soup with fresh noodles and dumplings for 50 Thai baht or $2 CDN/$1.55 USD. It’s from a hard working food vendor in a outdoor canteen filled with local office workers. It’s delicious.

Next Som Tam green papaya salad from a woman vendor in the same canteen who makes the salad to order for each person. She holds up a Thai chili and asks in Thai if she can include it. I don’t speak Thai but I understand what she is saying to me and nod yes.

Good food is our common language.

She puts the Thai chili in the traditional wooden mortar and uses a pestle and spoon to mix and crush it with the other ingredients, which include green beans, tomatoes and peanuts.

The rhythmic motion of the mortar and pestle she knows by heart. She doesn’t rush to make the salad though there is a line-up. She hands me my salad and I hand her 50 Thai baht, another $2 CDN/$1.55 USD. It’s delicious.

To finish, a Thai coffee at the Doilanka Coffee shop for 110 Thai baht or $4.36 CDN/$3.23 USD.

I can get coffee much cheaper from a street vendor but I am paying for a great organic single origin coffee from the Hill tribes of Northern Thailand and for the setting with air conditioning, Wi- Fi, lively music, and space to think, write and people watch. An escape in the hot urban jungle.

We buy products for the immediate satisfaction we get from them, for example to quench our hunger or thirst.

However, other emotions arise from the product purchase such as calm, curiousity, excitement, joy, and even hesitancy at first about trying something new.

The moment passes all too quickly and it becomes an experience.

One day years later you smell, hear or taste something that reminds you of a certain dish even though it is in a different context, time and place.

It is like a long lost lover that has come home and you remember.

This is a taste memory.

I have many of them from Bangkok.

They are stored in my heart.


Originally published at Caroline Ishii.