Cheese Twists

2015-01-01 11.12.11

I picked up a loaf of bread and stood in line waiting to pay. On the counter to my right were all the croissants and cakes and slightly strange combinations like green curry pie which we get in Bangkok. There were plastic trays, tongs and rolls of paper at the far end. And, I noticed, among all the reduced bread, what looked like a few packets of cheese twists. I walked over to them and picked up a packet. It was priced at 50 baht. I put them back and joined the line again which was now a few people deeper.

Cheese twists. A variation of the cheese straws that mum used to buy from the bakery in town. Cheese straws were flaky and greasy and cheesy and soft. They were a bit messy. Pastry crumbs and grease marks were left in the paper bag, on our fingers, around our lips. (The ones we tried to replicate at home were never quite the same. Always slightly too burnt, or crunchy, or not cheesy enough.)

Cheese twists though. These were the grown up version. They were crunchy and less likely to leave a mess. They were a bit posh. At Christmas, for our birthdays or Burns night, we would go over to Grandma and Granfer’s, only a few minutes away. Out would come the cheese twists, probably bought from Waitrose. Several wine glasses would be filled at least half full with sherry, as was Granfer’s measure. Elderflower cordial possibly for us two teens. Maybe a gin and tonic or two for Grandma. And then plenty of wine with the meal. I don’t really remember the details of conversations had around the table, but I do remember the laughter, smiles and shining eyes. Also Grandma’s loud burps.

After the meal there would be biscuits from the biscuit tin, a slightly rusty round box with blue patterns on it. It contained all the treats, more than at home. Tunnocks, Rocky bars and the occasional Penguin laid on a sheet of kitchen roll. Tea for Granfer and mum, coffee for Grandma and Dad.

On one evening there was supposed to be a meteor shower, and so after eating and drinking we all went out to the front of the house to look up into the sky. Grandma and Granfer’s house was an end of terrace, and on the corner of a small crescent a little way off of the main road, so it was quiet. Only the occasional car drove past. There were a few lights from windows and street lamps. Unfortunately one of these streetlamps was right in the way of our view, and it made it difficult to see any glimmers in the sky. Slightly drunkenly, Grandma and Granfer tried to block out the light by each covering one eye with a hand. I don’t know why they thought using one eye would help… in any case it’s possible we woke up the houses around us with all the giggling.

I miss them.

I put my bread down in front of the cashier. I dashed back around to the end of the line and grasped the cheese twists and handed them to the cashier. On second thoughts…

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Food

Food I miss from England right now that I can’t get in Bangkok:

Salt and vinegar crisps
Cheese and onion crisps
Chish and fips (aka fish and chips), specifically scampi and chips and battered sausage and chips
Apple crumble made with Bramley apples, and eaten with custard
Royal icing on a good cake
Rich tea biscuits
Victoria sponge cake
Eton mess with strawberries and raspberries
Blackberries
Fresh ravioli/tortelloni you can (could?) buy 2 for £2.50
Fish finger sandwiches with mayonnaise
Kippers
My mum’s ‘Budget Beef Wellington’ and her roast chicken and stuffing pie
Swede and potato mash
Mr Kiplings Cherry Bakewells
Scotch eggs

Hmmm……….. *stomach rumble*

What food would you miss/do you miss most?

How to be… cheerful

Pretty necklaces-pola delicious cakes-pola

I’ve been feeling a little down since coming back from my Russian adventure. I think there are always times in life where I feel a little lost, but I have to remember that it’s not just me, and I’ve been through times like this before and come out fine the other side. I feel a little homesick, I suppose, I feel like I’m a bit out of touch with what’s going on in England and my family, and that saddens me. Plus, I’m without a full-time job right now, and it’s scary not knowing what will happen in the future, and feeling out of control with applications. But – let it be, right? I can’t control what I can’t control.

What better to cheer me up than cake, and new necklaces? Haha ;)

Words of encouragement appreciated! :)

(No) Banana Man

My walk to work in the morning used to take me round the corner or Sukumvit and Thong Lor. Everyday (ok well nearly everyday) I would walk past breakfast- stalls piled high with fried rice, fried noodles, rice porridge and other dishes, all ready to be put in a white box or a plastic bag and taken away. Busy people jostled about, their money ready, only to pay and then become the slowest walker ever as they continued up the street, me following closely behind trying to overtake on the right, no on the left, no ok the right… desperate to overtake somehow.

In amongst all this were two of my favourite sellers of breakfast. One was a lady who sold toast. Oh.. but not just any toast. This was delicious barbecued bread. Once the bread had been sufficiently browned over hot coals, it was covered in margarine and then dusted with sugar, or drenched in sweetened condensed milk. Cut up into triangular squares, I would take the sweet sticky bready mess and devour it later on.

Next to her was another barbecue. This guy was selling little banana leaf parcels, neatly held together with a cocktail stick at each end. One day I bravely asked for two, ‘ow sorng na ka’ and squirrelled them to work to find out what they were. To my delight, inside one was sticky rice and something sweet, mushy and lavender coloured (I later found out this was taro). To my disgust, I bit into the other one and… banana.

I.Hate.Banana. With a passion. Ewww. Yuck. Gross. Euuuuuurgh. I mean really.

So, from then on, in my bid to avoid banana poisoning and get the ones I liked, (and because I can be damn determined when I want to be) I attempted.. Wait for it.. I attempted to speak Thai. ‘Mai chop gluaay’ – I don’t like banana. Simple, easy. I wouldn’t get the banana ones again.

Simple… pssht. Every time I attempted the phrase the man would look at me blankly, and put a few parcels in a bag. Every time I would get one banana, one taro… Of course ‘mai’ means a bazillion different things if you change your tone slightly, and ‘gluaay’ well who knows.

Everyday I would try again, say it a different way, draw out ‘gluaaaaaay’, say ‘mai’ high pitched, say ‘mai’ low pitched. No avail. I tried English – ‘No banana’ – and…recognition! ‘Banana?’ he would say, and when I got it back to the office – two banana parcels.

A few months ago I changed jobs, turning my morning walk round the corner to a 25 minute train ride. I also, as it happens, began to officially learn Thai language. My breakfast, however, became something from 7Eleven, or a pastry from a self service bakery. Talk about boring.

This morning I left an hour early for work as I had to go to the bank near my apartment (and I never know how long things will take when they involve me speaking Thai). As I walked back, I saw ‘Banana Man’ as I had since affectionately called him, standing in his usual spot, blue apron on, tongs in hand, midway through rotating all the little parcels so they were evenly and perfectly cooked. I stopped in front of him, smiled, and said ‘No banana’, in English, wondering what the outcome would be.

He smiled back at me. ‘Banana?’ oh no not this again. ‘No, no banana’ I repeated. Confusion. He screwed his face up. Then, out of nowhere, ‘No banana? Uhhh! Mai chop gluaay’, he said. ‘You no like banana. You like taro’.

Cue jaw drop.