OK that’s kind of weird. Or funny. But I quickly developed here a pronounced taste for spicy stuff. As in: really spicy, Thai-spicy kind of stuff.
Som Tam (spicy papaya salad) probably is my absolute favourite here. I could totally live on baby coconuts, som tams and delicious, Isaan style laab kai (a flavourful, spicy, ground chicken salad. The spicier the better). I like how the mastery of som tam fierce seasoning transforms an absolutely bland unripe papaya into a magic fireworks of flavours in your mouth. I like how the acidity and sweetness divert your attention from the really spicy taste, but for no more than a couple mouthfuls, before you realize it’s actually very hot. I like how it sets fire to your mouth, tongue, lips, but your foodpipe is like “Hey dude, you OK? Didn’t feel anything, but you look a bit funny. Wait… Are you crying!?”
So I keep insisting that I don’t want half-assed, pèt noy (little spicy) version of the dish but proper, exquisitely hot khon thai pèt (“Thai people spicy”). And I cry – of joy? of surprise? of pain? – on a regular basis, completely enjoying the blaze, shedding a few tears and wondering why oh why I did it again.
I thought Thai people were numb to that taste before I realized quite a number of them aren’t. An anecdote I find funny is from a day I went for Thai massage on Samsen. The masseuse arrived, grimacing and shaking her hands around, and kept “chhhhhhhhhhhhh haaaaaaaaaaaaa chhhhhhh chhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhaaaaa” for 15 minutes, laughing and apologizing “Som tam khaaa! chhhhhhhhh hhhhhaaaa” while trying to extinguish that mouth inferno.
I guess I’m not really trying to say anything more here than my passion for papaya salads and why I came to pick that name for this blog :) Also, I wish you’ll be tempted to try daring another chilli or two. It’s fun. Every mouthful is an adventure. You’ll come to love it.