My latest obsession when dining out is shrimp green curry.
A couple of months ago, my Beloved and I encouraged (demanded) my stepson try Thai food. It required lots of cajoling and the promise that we’d leave if he couldn’t find something on the menu at a Thai restaurant in (tame) Minnesota. He took the bait, ordered pad Thai and proclaimed he liked Thai food after all.
In an attempt to prove how adventurous an eater I was, I tried something new (for me) on the Thai menu: shrimp green curry.
It was delicious (of course), and I was reminded how much I enjoy coconut milk — something I don’t use when cooking at home. Thai eggplant and basil just added to the allure.
Since then, we’ve eaten Thai more frequently. Another of my hair-brained theories referred to in yesterday’s post is that you crave what you eat — so if you’re eating Doritos all the time, you’ll crave more Doritos but if you’re eating salads regularly, you’ll get so you crave salads, too; when you’re eating Thai a lot, you crave it more. So I’ve been eating green curry everywhere from Minnesota to Florida in the past several weeks.
The hottest meal I’ve ever eaten in my life of any ethnic vein was shrimp green curry at Thara Thai in Champaign, Ill. (yes, that would be in the Midwest folks — Midwesterners don’t all eat tasteless mashed potatoes at Cracker Barrel). I ordered “mild,” and I got a dish so hot I was sweating, my eyes were watering, my nose was running and my tongue was burning — all the while, I was shoveling it in as fast as I could.
Seriously, I think “hot” would have killed me. But it might have been worth it.
With Thai food, the spice is sort of a creeper hot. It’s not hot right away, and it enhances the flavor of the dish rather than completely obliterating it. But over the course of a few bites, the heat builds, transforming from taste on the tongue to a whole body experience.
The problem with Thara Thai (and a lot of Thai joints generally) was the atmosphere. It was a bit like dining in a KFC — plastic plates, bad overhead lighting and uncomfortable booths.
Tonight, my Beloved and I found the whole package: Thai Spice in Peachtree City, Ga., served our wine in glasses, dressed their tables in white tablecloths and set the lighting to “romantic.” And the food? Divine. We loved our appetizer of spicy basil spring rolls. I deviated slightly from my standard shrimp green curry, and I tried the shrimp panang curry, which according to the menu was an exclusive red curry recipe. Instead of a thin greenish sauce, I got a thicker orangey one. I got flavor in spades.
And the heat?
Please pass the Kleenex, my eyes are watering. And I’m still sweating.