In this post, I leave the kitchen. I mean, you can't cook everyday, and I love take out as much as the next guy. But the containers...oh the multitude of non-recyclable foam containers. I used to just turn my brain off and shove them in the garbage can, but those days are over. On my last trip to my favorite Thai restaurant, Titaya's, I brought my own containers with me.
I had seen a guy do this before at Titaya's, and my friend Jason was successful in his efforts at containerism at a Vietnamese restaurant in Seattle. I figured it would be fine, since everyone at Titayas is really sweet and friendly, but I was still a tad nervous. Language barriers...blank stares...holding up the line...ugh. There's a reason most people don't bother to do this kind of thing. No one wants to be the center of attention in any kind of retail or customer service setting. (Well I guess some people do. There was a guy who faked a heart attack in the head honcho's office at the University Bookstore in Seattle where I used to work, just to get attention.)
Another disadvantage to the whole bringing-your-own-Tupperware thing is that you can't call ahead. How long was this going to take?
I went up to the counter with my bag o' containers. I had three. I figured one for Scott's entree (pad praram, a simple chicken and veg stir fry with peanut sauce) and one for mine (som tam, papaya salad, details to follow) and one for our rice. I ordered, and then took the containers out of my bag and gave them to the ladies at the counter. They were extremely cool about it. One woman debated a minute, deciding which container would be best for which food, changing her mind a few times before settling the matter and taking them into the kitchen. I sat down on the bench to read my book. A mere ten minutes later, the food was ready.
As you can see, there is one foam container. That's because Scott prefers his peanut sauce on the side. Next time I'll have to bring one more.
Besides my smug sense of self satisfaction, I discovered other advantages to using my own containers. On the drive home, I did not have to worry about spilling. (Maybe this makes me look like a horrible driver, but once on the drive home from Titaya's I made a quick turn, the bag tipped over, and I got curry sauce all over the floor. Repulsive.)
Another bonus: in the excellent movie In the Mood for Love, which takes place in Hong Kong, the protagonist often goes to a noodle stand to get take out. She brings this really cool thermos with her. So even though I was wearing my grody gym clothes and feeling rather filthy and unattractive, I imagined that I was Maggie Cheung, wearing a gorgeous silk dress and hot shoes, and carrying my own noodle bucket.
So here is what I ordered, som tam. This is one of my favorite Thai foods. It is shredded unripe papaya, peanuts, tomato and green beans with fish sauce, chiles, garlic, sugar, and lime juice. I first ate it in Thailand, where it is made pretty much the same way, but with tiny dried shrimp. They don't use those at Titaya's, probably because most Americans don't care for them, myself included. I also don't like the green beans they use (long beans, but they are always tough) so I always order it without. Anyway, you might think the salad is sweet, but it's not--the unripe papaya is crisp and bland, kind of like cucumber. It is supposed to be very good for digestion.
I can't get enough. Plus, low fat.
So there we have it. Easy, tasty, Maggie Cheungesque take out extravaganza.