Sunday, November 1, 2009

Always A First Time

I’ve been over here for some time now, and I’ve eaten some pretty wild stuff. Lots of Thai people think it’s good fun to seek the limits of a Farang’s tolerance for Thai food. So I’ve eaten giant snails, very spicy of course; curries made from bi-valves that live in irrigation canals, or ant eggs, or pig skin; raw shrimp that may or may not have been chemically cooked by the incredibly spicy stuff they’d been soaked in, but I don’t think so, because they were as clear as glass; preparations of the leaves of mango trees, or pond scum; ground up small birds, minus only the beaks and feathers. I eat it all good-naturedly, and until this week I have tolerated it all very well. I had never, in fact, gotten the ejection furies, the body’s reaction to a substance of, hell no, this stuff has to go. Not until last Thursday. There’s a first time for everything.

I was up in Mae Hong Son, and I think an item of lunch was the offending substance. On the menu’s “Local Food” page, which may in fact be something to avoid generically. Innocuously described as “Stir Fried Chicken with Turmeric,” it contained, in addition to actual turmeric, a mountain of what passes for herbs in Northern Thailand, which looks more like a collection of bark and wood shavings, with some roots thrown in. I’d seen this stuff before, or stuff just like it, and it hadn’t killed me yet.

It wasn’t really bad tasting, a little bitter maybe, spicy and bitter, but definitely edible at the get-go anyway. Within a couple of hours the revolution had started; and after a couple of more hours lying on my side in bed with a wary, confused look on my face, the ejection process began, at the front end, and continuing through the night, ultimately joined by ejection from the back end. It was a rockin’ ungood time there for twelve or fourteen hours.

It was Sunday before I felt rehydrated and relatively normal again.

But notice that after five years of asking for it, I finally got it, and that’s really typical Fred luck right there. Just God’s little way of reminding you that these occurrences are rare, the Fates soliciting a little gratitude from a loved one.

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