Singapore Adventure

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I Don't Do Floss
by venitha

A feast is set before us at my favorite Thai restaurant. Nine-year-old Kalyn sits across from me, making faces and whining. I smile into her pained and finicky expression, thinking I should take an oh-so-flattering picture for when I share this experience with her future boyfriends, especially the college ones to whom she wants to appear worldly and sophisticated despite having grown up in Smalltown, Wisconsin.

Kalyn resolutely clamps her mouth closed when her mom encourages her to taste our easiest dish, pineapple rice.

"It's pineapple and rice. What's not to like?"

"Mom, I don't do floss."

Only sweet yellow rice is on her spoon, but there's no denying that the serving plate is topped with pork floss, which, if Kalyn gave a chance, she would probably like. It's essentially sweet shredded bacon, and there's no denying that Kalyn likes bacon. One morning in Phuket, she ate her own bacon, her mom's bacon, my bacon, and would have eaten Jim's bacon if Mom's caffeine hadn't kicked in.

Mom, my big sister Valerie, doesn't like spicy, and according to her taste buds, calibrated in Wisconsin, even no spice at a Thai restaurant tips the scale. She's a good sport, though, and she provides great entertainment. She tries green chicken curry, grimaces, and grabs her water glass. She tries pad thai [pictured], grimaces, and grabs her water glass. She tries kang kong [pictured], grimaces, and grabs her water glass.

"Okay, even I think the som tam is spicy," I warn her.

She tries a sliver of green papaya, grimaces, and grabs her water glass.

I order more water, eat the som tam, and give thanks for yearly trips to Santa Fe, for a good friend from India, for fire-roasted chilies at autumn farmers' markets... for whatever it was that recalibrated my taste buds in the 15 years since I left Wisconsin.

The staff packs up our leftovers, and our shared dessert of mango w/sweet rice transforms Valerie's grimace into a smile. Kalyn refuses so much as a taste, but we don't mind a bit as we finish every last bite.

Kalyn starved in neither Singapore nor Thailand, and she found plenty of food to rave about. Send me your favorites, KK, and I'll post them here.