I have a standard lunch place – an open air stalls with a variety of vendors – where I always order from the same lady. It’s called “The Original Thai Food.” She is the most amazing cook, serving up a variety of super flavorful dishes like chicken padprik, minced meat w/egg, cashew chicken, etc… (all for under $2.00) About a month ago, she was shut down unexpectedly. The local police were making immigration raids, rounding up illegals who didn’t have papers and sending them out of the country. What I didn’t know is that many restaurants or local vendors hire these illegals. There’s even a Malaysian chain restaurant, Papa Rich, which has been shut down for a month because all their workers left, afraid of immigration reprisals.
I found out shortly after my favorite cook closed down that her workers had left and she had no one to help her. I immediately wanted to volunteer if she just paid me in food because my lunch hour was devastated, relegated to second-rate (but still really good) Malaysian fare that didn’t quite measure up to the Thai wok-wizard. (Unluckily, I couldn’t fit the work into my teaching schedule.)
About two weeks into lunch banishment, I remembered that my cook had a sister who also ran a little Thai stand. It was a little further away, but well worth checking out. She was there! Cooking for her sister. It was a luncheon miracle, kind of like spam on wonder bread – except nothing like spam on wonder bread. More like truffles on caviar.
She smiled at me when she saw me, and I ordered the usual. Heaven indeed. I frequented that shop many times and was encouraged to learn that she planned on reopening the other stand in October.
Yesterday, on September 30, I went over to her sister’s stand and she wasn’t there. I ordered anyways and the padprik chicken had too much sauce, not enough chicken, and hardly any basil – a little disappointing. But I hoped that she had moved back to the promised land.
So today, on October 1st, I went to the old shop and saw her there, busy as usual, putting smiles on faces and work of art on plates. The place was packed once again. As usual. I nodded at her and ordered my minced meat w/egg. The peppers and basil popped in my mouth like spunky little unicorns spreading happiness and joy.
I’m not going to get into the immigration debate. But when someone’s travel documents start getting in the way of my lunch, it’s real easy to get cranky.
But no more. She’s back. And so is my happiness.
(Pictured: Thai Minced Meet w/Egg. RM5.50)