I leave Bangkok in less than 48 hours and I’m in a bit of a panic that I might not get another noodle soup before I go.
This is a soup that we’ve been having for dinner about three times a week since I’ve been here.
I feel something for noodle soup akin to what Winona Ryder expresses in the 90’s movie Reality Bites: cradling her Big Gulp, she says something like, “I love my Big Gulp. It gives me all the calories I need for the whole day…”
I love my noodle soup because it feels like such a wholesome nourishing dinner. There’s the homemade noodles – you see them piled up on the inside of the glass in flour-y mounds – I like the green ones. There’s always a heaping pileful in each bowl of soup. Then the slices of tender pork and bright green leafy greens for my protein and vegetable. I savor too, the surprising crunch of a spoonful of pork crackle thrown in (or least that’s what I imagine it to be). And the broth.. the broth! Rich and clear and incredibly flavorful chicken stock with scallions that you can’t help but down to the very last drop. It’s so addictive that I’ve asked a half dozen people if they think there’s MSG in it and the universal consensus is that if there is, it can’t be very much because nobody gets MSG symptoms.(And so far nobody buying the noodle soups has known how to ask about MSG in Thai – everything is done by pointing and a few key words – Like, “Four soups, please – to go” and “Yes, yes, extra dumplings, please.”)
And best of all it costs a mere 30 baht. That’s with the extra stuff: three dumplings. One dollar.
So why aren’t I running down to the soi this instant? Well,Â it’s nearly 11 pm. The time is not the issue; the noodle cart only opens up late at night, usually around 8 pm and caters to the late crowd and stays open until the wee hours or until the cauldron of broth is gone. And it’s not even raining anymore. The massive thunderstorm has abated and the frogs are going full force.
It’s that Sue and I are here alone with the two babies this week (Songbae went with Joss to Laos to be his photography assistant) and Sue hasn’t emerged from putting Noi naa to sleep and I can’t very well run off without somebody keeping an ear out for Christian. (Her bedroom is at the opposite end of the apartment from the guest room.) I can’t blame her either as she’s been working full-time this whole week AND staying up nights with me drinking scotch, laughing, and knitting.
In fact, ALL my noodle soups this month have been delivered to me either by my very accommodating brother or equally accommodating brother-in-law and they’re not here.
I’m pining for a noodle soup.
But I do have to admit a dirty downfall of noodle soup take-away: everything comes in a plastic bag. EVERYTHING. The broth comes in one scalding hot bag, the rest of the food in another, and then a small one filled with a light vinegar and chili sauce that can be added to the soup. And all that’s put into yet another plastic bag. It’s not very ecological. But that’s Bangkok. Everything comes in a plastic bag, even Coke.
This can be avoided by eating there. Although the noodle soup comes from a cart on the side of the street, if you buy a soup to eat there, somebody kicks open a card table, sets a few condiments down and finds you a plastic stool to sit on. In fact, the entire sidewalk for about 30 feet gets completely taken over by this makeshift restaurant space. I love doing that, but with the kids and their bedtime – I can’t manage it this time around and I’m very appreciative of take-out, despite all the plastic we’re consuming.