I have loved food since a young age. I was always gulfing down my food so there was space in my face enough for the next mouth full.
This is a story of how I found my favourite Thai dish; Larb Moo Tod.
I love all food and my love affair with the spicy side of life started in France. We used to drive from Manchester (UK) all the way to the South of France with a small trailer in tow filled with all types of English food.
Now you may wonder why?….Simple answer, we could not afford to eat out in France so it was cheaper to bring our own.
Now being from the North of England; we love our curries. As a child, i’d not had the pleasure of my taste buds maturing enough to take on anything other than Alphabet soup and fish fingers. At the age of 11(ish) my Mum offered me some Chilli Con Carne a La Can i.e Canned Chilli Con Carne from Liddle. The taste was complex and interesting and the burning sensation set off a masochistic love affair for species.
So that was when I first started to love spicy food and over the years my taste has always lent towards citrus, salt and chilli so Thailand is a haven for chilli junkies like me.
Little did I know that Thailand had a treat awaiting me that was so powerful it could instantly wake me up from a drunken stupa.
How it all started
So I had finished a big night out with…x..y and z, no idea actually who as that is not the important part of the story. It was the fact I was wasted and wanted food. One of my mantras is “I’m drunk therefore I eat”.
I lived in the Rachaddar area and knew a 24 hour restaurant that had nice food and you could still order more beer. A double plus in my book! So off I stumbled to a taxi to take me to Huay Kwan market.
I arrived, I paid, I climbed the awkward stairs to the restaurant and slouched in a booth wondering how I got here (but impressed that I managed to find my way. The power of my homing stomach works again).
The waitercame over and I ordered a “NUnnngg Bbbeeerrrrrr kruub”, which roughly translates to “a single beer please my good man”. Then it came to ordering food. My favourite dish, at the time, was Larb Moo so I set the brain sells in motion to speak Thai the best I could to satisfy the beast within.
Now lets take some time to explain this culinary delight. It is classed as a “salad” by Thai’s but for us its bascially mince meat with herbs, lemon and plenty of chilli. Served with lots of mint leaves, chopped onions and fish sauce it is delicious with rice. It is properly pronoucned “Larb (salad) Moo (pork)”.
My brain found it’s way to the memory of how to order the dish in Thai, sent the request to the mouth and off we went into the linguistic abysss.
“Larb…..Moo…tthhhfff”, now the last few consonants a result of being so pissed I could not speak properly and adding some sort of Long Island Ice Tea induced word at the end.
“Larb Moo Tod Chai Mai krub?”, asked the waiwaiter. This translates to “Larb Moo deep friend, is that right?”. To which I replied “Yes I’ll av won of those pwreze”, and off he went to the kitchen.
I stared around the room trying to focus. It was dark and mostly lit from the yellowish street lights at window level to the old and worn restaurant level. There were about 20 booths with a few people dotted around and a heavy, sleepy, musky feel to the room.
Soon the beer arrived and went down well once I finished chipping my teeth in an attempt to put the bottle to my mouth.
Then, a shadow appeared over me as my nural impulses swurled around in the downpour of alcohol I subjected them to. A dish appeared promtly infront of me with a confirming “Larb Moo Tod Krub”. I had been expecting the dish I had seen a hundred times yet 6 neatly made spicy looking balls sat looking back at me next to a heart shaped collection of white rice.
I swirled my head in his direction and asked “Allaiiyyee?” (what is this?)
I looked back at the plate, back at him and then thought of the famous saying in Thailand “Order what you see, eat what you get.” and this was one of those times.
I grabbed a ball gingerly as I tried to examine its texture. I quick sniff confirmed it was not something too scary. I put it in my mouth and…….
A whole new world!
It was spicy, it was slighty crunch, sour, tasty….then the mint hit me with a freshing burst as the ball opened in my mouth. The hot taste burnt but it was calmed by the lemony minty goodness. Amazing!
“Alloy mak loy!” I perfectly intonated in his direction = this is really tasty I said it in almost perfect Thai. It totally woke me up from my druken stupa with one bite.
And that was how I disovered a dish, I have probably eaten hundreds of times since, by being so drunk I could not say what I wanted properly and got something better.
Order what you see, eat what you get and you might be pleasantly surprised.