Providing your not struck down by Delhi Belly, too often, street food remains the only way to savour local food at its best if you find yourself lucky enough to be in foreign parts.
Sitting on a dusty plastic stool watching a small Thai man ladling steaming stock broth into a deep bowl filled with glass noodles, small slivers of chicken and topping it off with green citrusy herbs and hot fresh chilli, is my most sublime memory of Bangkok.
Out of one corner of your eye you watch the bright green VW beetles whizzing round the Zocalo in downtown Mexico City, while the rest of your body is finely attuned to the tiny old lady in front of you. And, in front of her, the accoutrements of her trade; large, round, green, crispy tortillas piled high, an array of salsas, advocado, chilli, tomato, maybe some shredded cheese: “a gusto, a gusto”, she urges, keen to serve the hungary businessman waiting patiently behind for his tostada, or taco, or quesadilla, or gordita or picada…..hmmm…Oh Si Si…
How about a banana leaf topped with boiled yucca, sharp cabbage salad and a hunk of crispy pig skin courtesy of a young Nicaraguan girl, this delicacy sounds unusual but is in actual fact utterly delicious. And the simple cabbage salad served throughout Central America is just fresh shredded cabbage, lime juice and salt – delectable and incredibly easy to remember.
Often, trying to recreate a dazzling dish once back at home, can feel frustratingly impossible, but only because each mouthful and memory is steeped with the exotic overtones particular to you in that wonderful moment – and those memories you cannot make.
Yet it is in the trying, and the eating, that you can sit back and and recall that mouth-watering epiphany.
Chicken is one of the few meats I buy with regularity and its stock is normally what I crave once the carcass has been devoured by my family. Inevitably, I endlessly try to recreate that first Thai soup I had so many years ago each and every time.
Simple, filling, nutritious and delicious, the binlids adore it now as much as I do. And one day, I imagine they will taste the original for themselves, but will they be reminded of their mum? Or of being sat in a busy street clamouring with noise and heat.
Thai Style Noodle Soup
Ginger as above
Hot chicken stock
Glass Noodles or any noodles
Any manner of greens – basically
Fresh mint and or corriander
Fresh chilli finely cut
Saute the onion, garlic and ginger until golden and soft, add steaming hot chicken stock to the pan. Throw in the noodles and stir with a fork or chopsticks to separate – cook as instructed on packet – no more than a few minutes. Prepare your greens to throw in at the last minute: peas, green beans, bok choi, spinach, chard, lettuce, into the steaming broth – you want them crunchy.
Serve with a squeeze of lime, a drop of fish sauce, some fresh coriander, mint, sliced spring onions and finely sliced chilli – enjoy.