Recently I was reading a magazine and came across an interesting piece which was a culmination of readers’ responses to the question: when did you know your significant other was the one? There were all sorts of heart warming answers, lots of things like: ‘I knew he was the one when I met his family and saw how well he treated his mom’ or ‘When I couldn’t imagine not waking up next to her every morning.’
I thought about what Alan might say about me. It’d be easy for him to come up with something, what with there being a whole list of endearing things I do for him to choose from. For example, he could say something pertaining to my thoughtfulness; something like, “I am reminded she is the one every time I leave a room and she reminds me to turn off the light!”
When I thought about what I might say about him, it turned out to be a tie between “I knew he was the one when I asked him not to eat my leftovers from the night before so I could have them for lunch the next day and he respected that” and “He always turns off the light before he leaves a room.” It wasn’t until this week that the tie was broken and I picked a new answer all together.
This was the week we stopped by Krung Thai, our favorite Thai restaurant, for dinner and noticed that the portions were getting significantly smaller. We liked one dish best there, the pad kee mao, and could easily eat three plates of it each, but there we were, eating half a plate each with a large lettuce leaf garnish covering the other half of our plates. No one else could make pad kee mao like this, so with our stomachs half full, we went home saddened. Later that night, a great idea came to me that I could just learn how to make pad kee mao myself and make loads and loads of it — enough of it to eat for weeks on end. I knew how Krung Thai’s pad kee mao tasted; surely that was enough for me to be able to replicate it.
The next day, I picked out the ingredients common to a handful of online recipes, decided these must be the essential ingredients, and headed to the supermarket. When I got home, I realized I had misplaced my measuring cup but figured I could eyeball a 1/4 cup (who couldn’t?) and so proceeded to whip up some delicious pad kee mao. I hadn’t whipped up anything in a long while, but I’d been watching plenty of people cook regularly on The Food Network and that bolstered my confidence.
First I chopped up Thai chilies and garlic, fried them together, then threw in the pound of ground turkey and Thai basil. That was what the recipe called for, and if I just did what it said, I could have the tasty noodle dish it promised in less than 30 minutes! Next I added a 1/4 cup each of fish sauce, oyster sauce and black soy sauce. This is where the eyeballing came in handy. As I added these three ingredients to my ground turkey, the whole thing started looking like a dark soy sauce soup. Inside, I started to panic a little bit, but then thought I could remedy it by adding in the noodles. Noodles were absorbent right? They could just soak up the extra saucy-ness and fix the problem. I stirred the noodles around in the soup-sauce, waiting for the extra sauce to soak in or evaporate.
After an eternity of stirring, I had started to sweat and the sauce was still there — so much of it! I gave up and poured the concoction into two bowls. I handed a bowl to Alan and took one for myself. I wanted so badly for it to taste like pad kee mao. It looked like pad kee mao. It faintly smelled of pad kee mao. But, after one bite, it was apparent that it was no pad kee mao. My eyeballed 1/4 cup of each sauce ingredient must have been closer to a 1/2 cup because the saltiness of the noodles blocked out every other flavor in the dish. It was almost like I had come up with a new way to serve salt. Salt for dinner — it’s what’s for dinner!
Disappointed, I threw the lot of it in the trash and crumpled on the couch. I had had such high hopes for my culinary creation. Alan told me that it was a good first start (which was generous, considering that we were only able to eat 2 bites each), and that tomorrow he would teach me how to cook to taste. I was a little bit skeptical, but the man could make some mean marinades, so I agreed.
The next day, there we were again, the garlic, the thai chilies, the turkey. I cooked them all together and when it came to the part of creating the sauce, Alan stepped in all nonchalant like. He took a bowl and mixed the three sauce ingredients, tasting here, tasting there. It wasn’t until I screamed that my garlic was going to brown that he finally came over and added it to the pan. I added the noodles and mixed. They were the same motions I had gone through the day before, and I wasn’t about to get my hopes up. He scooped us a plate each and we sat down to try our joint effort. I took a bite and then I had the moment I knew — I knew Alan was it when he helped me (almost exactly) replicate Krung Thai’s pad kee mao. That was more important than being nice to your mom or waking up each morning to each other. This was pad kee mao, one of my favorite foods. This was serious.