On the flight into Bangkok from Tokyo, having food fantasies.
Food memories are funny things — like dreams they sometimes have a blazing intensity that can make real life feel like it’s the ephemeral shadow.
One of my best food memories of all time was many years ago, arriving in Bangkok in the middle of the night, sleepless from an agonizing series of flights crunched into claustrophobic hell and as hungry as a person can be whose fear of flying has kept her from eating for 24 hours. We got to our hotel after endless waiting for a transfer and when we arrived I was a crazy mix of nauseous from lack of sleep and ravenous from lack of food. The room service menu was filled with American food I recognized and didn’t want and strange Thai food that tantalized my foodie brain even as my stomach said “nooooo!
But “when in Thailand,” and all that. I ordered a vegetarian dish that arrived full of fat rice noodles, gorgeous vegetables and delicate herbs and spice. There was a small dish of pungent fish sauce served on the side with slices of teensy chilies floating benignly on the surface. I had done enough Thai cooking to know that beyond that funky fish sauce smell there is a world of umami, so I held my nose and mixed it in, chilies and all.
And wowie kazowie!! I can still taste how wonderful that dish was, some fifteen years later. I’ve eaten some mighty fine Thai food since then but I’ve never been able to replicate whatever made it so fabulous.
I know that the chances of lightening striking twice are slim (a phrase I use with caution as I can see lightening is in fact striking somewhere outside my airplane window as I write) and the conditions are somewhat different, but my reptile brain is still convinced that what happened once could happen again.
I am tired, though not as exhausted as I was 15 years ago. Age and experience have taught me that upgrading to business class is worth its weight in gold. I am still claustrophobic but at least I can enjoy my panic and anxiety in a flat bed. Plus, drugs. So I have slept. But I AM starving, and it’s the middle of the Asian night, even if not my own, and I can see Bangkok out my window.
The stars are aligned. So I’ve skipped both meals on this 6 hour flight from Tokyo. Room service, here I come.
2 hrs later:
And here were are. The taxi ride was quick and scam-free. Check-in was painless. The view out our window is stunning — at night the darkness makes the river a picture of sparkling mystery.
And the room service was good. Not magical, not over-the-moon, but good. We had prawn laksa, a Malaysian noodle curry soup with coconut milk (and shrimp), and pad Thai, wrapped in an “egg nest,” complete with tiny dish with fish sauce and chilies. It was delightful, but it doesn’t match my memory. Which just goes to prove that melancholy truth, that you can’t go home again. Not even just for dinner.
Early morning Bangkok food tour. Got to get some sleep!