Posted by: shineonali | January 26, 2010

Phet May Kha?

I used to be a complete wimp when it came to spicy foods, even though most of my friends in Canada love to challenge themselves with dishes like “suicide (chicken) wings”, or they douse their Mexican food with Tabasco sauce.  Once I started traveling, I gradually tried spicier and spicier things–graduating from “mild” salsa to “medium”, for example.  But I admit it, still pretty light stuff, even by North American standards.

Long before I ever came to Thailand, I went to a big dinner with friends at a Thai restaurant in Toronto.  I was always pretty careful around Thai food– I stuck to dishes I knew I could handle, like Phat Thai.  I’d had green curry before, and it must have been a mild version, because I helped myself to some as the dishes were passed around the table.

None of us had seen each other in a while, so there were lots of conversations going on.  As I ate my green curry chicken, I thought, this is kind of spicy.  But not too bad.  And it’s delicious, bursting with flavour.  My tolerance must be getting better.  Or, it’s actually quite mild and my friends will think it’s too bland. That’s probably what it is.

A few minutes later, I noticed a bit of a commotion at the other side of the table.  A couple of my friends and the waiter were talking animatedly.  I asked what was going on.  “Mike and Gan are complaining that the green curry is ridiculously spicy.  They’re trying to get him to taste it.  I think he assumes they are being babies and shouldn’t be eating Thai food if they don’t like spicy.”

I watched as they tried to hand the bowl to waiter, who seemed to be refusing firmly.   Finally, reluctantly, he spooned some curry into his mouth.  His eyes widened, and he gasped.  He began apologizing profusely, “You are right.  We must have accidentally put in too many chilis.  I’ll bring you a new dish right away.”

I looked down at my (now empty) plate in surprise, a small smile forming on my lips.

PS Even though I can tolerate much spicier food than I ever used to, nothing could prepare me for the level of fire here in Thailand!


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