Friday, June 19, 2009

The air is full of spices...

and then some.

I am a huge fan of the movie Sense & Sensibility (the Ang Lee / Emma Thompson version). In the movie, when we first meet Colonel Brandon, Sir John announces "We served in the East Indies together..." to which budding adventurer Margaret Dashwood eagerly asks "Have you really been to the East Indies? What's it like?" Sir John the Spoilsport replies "I'll tell you what it's like - HOT." but Colonel Brandon satisfies Margaret's romantic ideals by whispering "The air is full of spices."

I have no idea where exactly the East Indies are, but I'm pretty sure they're around here somewhere (to be fair, any time a European explorer got more than 1,000 miles from home he invariably thought he was in India). But I can say that I know exactly what Colonel Brandon was referring to.

Often when sitting at the Dive eating lunch, the wind will gust just right and blow in the fumes from the kitchen area. The super heated capsaicin from someone's spicy stir fry takes flight and heads right for us, and whoooo nelly! I imagine it's a bit like being hit with pepper-spray. Our eyes, noses, mouths and lungs are instantly stung with it and much coughing and waving and gulping of water ensues. It's not a romantic sight I can assure you.

Then of course, there's the durian. Lordy lordy lordy, the durian. I very narrowly avoided being fed durian again today at lunch. But I was subject to it's pungent perfume for the rest of the afternoon. Ugh. It's been explained to me that there are many different kinds of durian, of different flavors and intensities, and since Rayong produces a ton of it I really try not to insult it. Instead I just comment that it has a very strong flavor/odor. I've found that a good comparison is cheese - most Thai people don't like even the mildest of cheeses and would surely be repulsed by the stinkier of French cheeses. But I tell them how much I like it, and we generally agree that some things are just acquired tastes.

Of course then they ask me questions about cheese and I tell them about Cheddar and Gouda and Chevre and Havarti ... and then I start to cry. Honestly, the other day I was watching an ad for a company that gives tours of the Great Barrier Reef. There were stunning pictures of coral and fish... action shots of people snorkeling and diving. Then they mentioned lunch on the boat and when they panned across a buffet table showing a sizable platter of assorted cheeses I actually gasped aloud and got misty eyed. I'm having problems here people.

Sorry... what were we talking about? Oh yeah... the air is full of spices... and durian... and mosquitoes.... but no cheese. Don't you wish you were here?

TAG: Code Sticky Rice


Bezzie said...

So the name of your Thailand travel memoir will be My Life Without Cheese. Or something to that effect. No way, I couldn't do it!!!

I've experienced my father frying tobasco sauce and an idiot setting off pepper spray in a crowded movie theater. Close...but the pepper spray was worse.

Rebel said...

Yeah I've been in a hallway where pepper spray had accidentally gone off, and you're right it's much worse.. but it is a similar sensation.

gl. said...

too bad you can't make your own cheese...

Michael5000 said...