Lek, our hostess with the mostest, while proprietor of this condo we’ve been Airbnb-ing since February 9th, stopped by last week. She received word from Jeanette that one of LouLou’s earlobes had become infected following her piercings at Body Manipulations in San Francisco. They were pierced early December, why it took nearly four months to cause such an unpleasant oozing circumstance, followed by a fever is beyond all of us. Lek brought LouLou a cute Thai metal container of salve, telling us it was an ointment that helps heal bites, scratches and burns — not Tiger’s Balm, though does have its own medicinal menthol scent.
Though what really boosted LouLou’s spirits was an added bonus — Lek’s gift of duck soup purchased nearby. Three separate servings in cellophane bags, each cinched tight by piddly red rubber bands. The larger bags contained rich, dark broth — three medium sizes for egg noodles with ramen, bean sprouts, alongside lean duck medallions, lastly, an essential, chili marinade; I imagine made using rice wine vinegar, scallions and lime juice.
LouLou doesn’t have her taste buds together yet, neither were mine at thirteen; I wasn’t interested in flavors I’m all over today. LouLou has an eagle eye, particularly when the possibility of eating anything spicy could be a subject open for discussion. “Poppi, you’re not going to add the chili are you?” After uncinching one of these chili marinade bags, I dipped the fork’s prong tip inside to check for heat. Before doing so I figured this marinade would compliment the reduced broth beautifully. As I saw it, the dilemma was including these three small bags of chili perfection in such a way LouLou wouldn’t actually notice. First into a cook pot for warming went our broth, next I emptied the noodles with bean sprouts and duck, then quite effectively diverted LouLou’s attention before adding those (as far as LouLou was concerned) debateable spicy ingredients. As each bag was opened, then poured into the pot, this apartment began smelling as if Thailand suddenly decided to celebrate their form of Thanksgiving. After removing these mouth-watering cellophane bags of yumminess from the white plastic shopping bag, I realized we didn’t have three proper bowls that were big enough to hold each serving. Instead we improvised, using one of Lek’s dinner plates for a trivet; placed the cook pot on top, indeed an uncivilized presentation, although blogs ago I did mention glamping elsewhere — in Bangkok it’s prêt-à-porter resort. The levels of complexity in this broth were sublime, chili marinade seasoned exquisitely, noodles spot on, our duck Michelin succulent. Famiglia di Schiavo alternated slurps using both spoon and a fork; in order to savor every last drop, tilting the pot forward became imperative. On occasion I’ve lead readers to surmise we’re quasi-vegetarians; Lek’s gift of duck soup was an excellent example of how fudging self-imposed rules can sometimes occur.
Lek came over again yesterday; she brought by fresh linens and accompanied the same four housekeepers as usual. She handed me another gift, a ripe papaya and some delicious Thai bananas that I sliced into one inch discs, then froze. “Kob khun kup” I said, luckily thank you in Thai is simple enough to remember. Jeanette had sent Lek an email thanking her, expressing just how much we loved the duck soup. In person I followed up by asking where we could locate another batch. Lek walked into the kitchen, leaned on a bar stool, gazed out our condo’s floor to ceiling windows, thirty-three floors above an unfathomable congested maze below; it’s crucial situations such as these that make me wish I understood Thai. I eventually established the street, while also caught Lek convey, “number twenty.” She forewarned us the woman who prepares this heavenly duck soup is notorious for selling out by 10:30am.
This morning I asked Jeanette and LouLou if they were interested in having duck soup for lunch, both cheered in unison by some form of yes. With pep in our stride, we pursued a woman and her cart whose speciality is duck soup on Pradipat Road near number twenty, however friends, to no avail. Two hours later, once at home, Jeanette emailed Lek describing our unsuccessful effort to find the woman. Lek quickly replied writing the duck soup lady had a doctor’s appointment today. We so righteously scored in Bangkok. Not only does Lek seem similar to an Aunt Bee personality, she also has the inside track on Saphan Khwai, like Aunt Bee’s knowledge of comings and goings within Mayberry R.F.D.