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Five star heartburn

August 5, 2005

Since Julia had to go rub in that she ate at Chao Praya the other night (this was our favorite lunch spot when we worked for The Big Red U), I got an intense craving for Thai food today at lunch. Since I haven’t had the chance to really find good Thai food yet, I hopped on City Guide, and found that the #1 rated Thai restaurant in town, Yummy Yummy Thai Food, is right up the road from work. Works for me, I grabbed my keys and purse and hit the road.

The place is right in front of a seedy motel in a bad part of town. I enter, greeted by the sticky blast of lukewarm air from a portable swamp cooler. The place is decked out in garish purple satin drapes, with color photos of all their menu items tacked on the walls. They are clearly proud of the rave reviews they’ve gotten, as every article is framed and hung on the walls in between the menu pictures. There is junk shoved in every corner and there are enough plants to make me feel like I might just have stepped into the jungles of Thailand. It’s not exactly a fine dining establishment, but all things considered, I didn’t expect it to be.

A trio of elderly ladies are enjoying their lunch in the corner, and a single waitress runs around, making sure that they have everything they need. She greets me, and I already know what I want: my personal dashboard for good Thai, chicken panang. She takes my order, asks how spicy. Now most places use the star system, one star being not spicy, and five stars being burn your tongue off. I usually get four because three is never hot enough, and five is too hot. Four is just right. It’s like the Goldilocks of Thai spice. It’s hard though, because different chefs have different ideas of what the right amount of heat is. I guess there’s no star system manual. She offered me the choices of mild, medium and hot. Not wanting to risk getting food that is not hot, I went for hot.

Big mistake.

The food was “Yummy Yummy,” but overly hot. After the first bite, I knew it was over. Yet I ate anyway. I discovered four different kinds of chili peppers cut up into my food, and I could feel each one burning my esophagus as they reached my stomach. Bravely, I polished the whole thing off, and now I feel like my chest is just plain going to burst into flames. I don’t think that all the Tums in the world can save me now.

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