My favorite menu
What the hell is a slider?
Not in baseball, I know that answer, but in food. I thought it was a sandwich. According to my search on the interweb just now, it sometimes is, but when I walked into Phil’s Sliders the other day, I was surprised to find they only offered itty bitty burgers. I’ve already had two hamburgers in the last couple weeks, which is my usual number for a year, but oh well, like they say, “When in Rome…” Or in this case: when in Berkeley…do as the haughty foodie university kids do.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my two wee jalapeno patties, bizarre building-block fries, and happy hour beer, but I stuttered just a second at paying $12 for it. $12? That’s at least a dozen bowls of mystery soup on the street in Bangkok…
(queue the wobbly screen of the flashback)
The sun was trying to teach me about Thai culture with a hammer as I left my hotel a few hours after arriving in Bangkok, and my hair went straight from water-wet to sweat-wet without passing go. I wasn’t sure which way to walk, so was happy to see one of the mobile street carts that prowl the city set up down the block.
My favorite menu is no menu at all. Dearest of all to me is when you say to the cook, with gestures more than words, “I’ll take one” and then sit to find out the answer to “one of what?” That’s how it worked at the soup cart. The older lady smiled, and the green visor she was wearing fanned a hint of a breeze my way as she nodded her head, and her hand gestured towards a plastic stool somewhat in the shade.
From the far side of the street came hotel staff, who smiled shyly at me, while the gate on the near side divulged uniformed cops who ignored me from behind their mustaches. Mustaches? In Thailand? I suspect if you are Thai and can grow a mustache you are automatically qualified to be a ranking police officer.
My soup arrived, slippery noodles, savory broth, and glistening pieces of…mystery. I lifted the first. Oh, liver. Okay. Liver’s fine. It tasted a little gamey, a bit gelatinous, but not too bad.
I lifted the second piece. Wait, I think this is liver. What was the last one?
The third. Oh. Then what were the first two?
On further examination, it’s entirely possible that none of them were liver. Too soft. Too…giggly. My guest guess is that at least one of them was congealed pig blood.
My favorite menu is no menu at all; the preconception of what a slider was lead to a modest disappointment, and I’m not sure I would have ordered the pig blood.
Re sliders: On the chance that you haven’t already met, I introduce you to White Castle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Castle_%28restaurant%29), the original home of the “slider.”
I stopped eating meat 17 years ago this coming December, but even before I went vegetarian I stayed away from White Castle, though there are people who’d walk for 20 miles through a snowstorm to go there. I gave up trying to make sense of this years ago.
I think we see eye to eye on that one. I confess that there’s one particular fast food burger purveyor who appeals to me when I’m really hungry, but it ain’t White Castle. 17 years? That’s impressive. I’ll toast that with a portabella slider with…tahini sauce?
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