Monday, October 09, 2006
Well, not a very profound post after a long hiatus (sorry, readers--it's been a long, hard semester), but at least another honest insight into the life of an expat. After three years of being satisfied with sticky-rice, noodles or yogurt milk for breakfast, I woke up this monsoon rainy morning thinking: "Ham and Eggs" (and, if possible, country-style skillet-fried potatoes, with toast, butter, jam, and a hot mocha espresso). Where, oh where, in NE Central Thailand among the rice fields and water bufallo?
I then remembered a little hole-in-the-wall cafe about 100 meters from the school entrance road. It is reported that the cook once worked at the British Expat Club in Bangkok. "He actually uses white wine in his white spaghetti sauce!" is the tantalizing rumor on the street. That was enough for me. I dressed in my quick-dry clothes (T-shirt, cut-offs & flip-flop shoes) and made a beeline through the heavy, warm rain on my little trusty Honda motorbike.
Arriving, I noticed a couple of other foreign teachers (good sign, I thought), and some English-language National Geographics on a bookshelf (another good sign). Since no waiter/waitress appeared, I made my way back to the kitchen to place my order. There stood a 6-foot (two-meter) heavy-set bearded Thai cook, cigarette dangling out of his mouth, frying something in a skillet--which looked vaguely western. OK, ignore the cigarette ashes flying around the stove, ignore the dirty T-shirt spanning his beer-belly, I'M going to have my Western Breakfast!! I made a few "oink-oink" and hen-cackling noises, and I think he got the idea.
In 10 minutes, there appeared at my little wood table a plate which floated right out of Sawan (Thai for "heaven"). Eggs sunny side up, pan-fried spuds with onions, a slice of ham, and two pieces of toast with a side of butter and marmalade. To top it off, a demi-tasse arrived with steaming-hot mocha to complete the picture I had only dreamed of up until now. I pretended the cigarette ashes were flecks of ground black pepper spicing up my entree. No, I taste it...it really IS black pepper! After falling down to the wet tile floor, and gratefully kissing the big dirty toes of my Thai cook, I jumped into my plate like a starved mad-man who just escaped a Thai prison. Heaven, indeed.
After the last lick of my plate and a couple of satisfied burps, the bottom line: The cost for this taste of Sawan? About $1.25. Arghh! Too expensive! Back to my sticky-rice or noodles tomorrow morning (45-cents). But surely, it will be worth saving up for another taste of heaven, a few months down the road.