Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mai pet, kob

If knowing the difference between adding a little pizazz to a dish and burning the enamel off one's teeth is an art, then the Thais are still finger painting. Thai food has a lot of chilies in it, and they diabolically come in all kinds of colors so you can't always easily sort them out.

The easy solution would seem to be to tell the waitress, or the cook, "Mai pet, kob". That means "Not hot, please" in Thai. For some reason, that doesn't work very well. I am not sure if it is because the waitresses just don't pay any attention to what you are saying, or because the cook thinks that the look on your face you get after swallowing a mouthful of those things is funny as hell.

At first, I thought that I was just getting a bit older and couldn't handle the hot stuff like I used too. I would take a bite of something, turn beet red, and start sweating in places that I didn't know I had. Then, I would raise 7 kinds of hell about it, and the girls would be laughing their little brown asses off. Mind you, this would happen at the same places I have been eating at least a few times a week, for almost 5 years now. I was pretty sure it was a conspiracy, because Thai folk can have a pretty evil sense of humor when the mood strikes them.

But, after watching our girls for a while, I noticed the same thing happening to them too. They are just sneakier about their suffering. After Palmiez would take a bite of something, She would put her head down a little to chew it. I asked her why she did that, and when she looked up at me, it was clear as day. She had tears streaming out of her eyes and a water mustache.

I asked her "Alloy mai?", which means "Is it delicious?". To which she coughed, blinked back the tears, and sputtered "Chai, alloy mach daddy", which means "Yes, it's very delicious". So, I asked her why, if it was so good, was she crying? She just giggled and kept eating.

I have, on many occasions, tried to explain to them that "hot" is not a flavor, but have met with no success. Roong tells me that chillies are good for you. She can't seem to explain why, but remains convinced that it is true. Deep down, I may be hoping that maybe there is some wonderous hidden health benefit to them that I haven't discovered yet, and that she puts them in there because she loves me. But, until I develop the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or live to be 147 years old, I will remain convinced that she does it just to see ridiculous faces I make when I come across one of her culinary booby traps.