Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kate Miller 17: Cravings!

Kate's on a quest for a satisfying flavor...but after all this effort, will she find it satisfying? 

17. Cravings (Feb 2013)
            Kate Miller was no ordinary pregnant lady. She saw herself with supernatural clarity. It was almost like a prophecy or an out-of-body experience. There she was, seated, chopsticks in hand, eating…no, not just eating, but filling herself with the flavor of basil and bean sprouts and ginger and noodles and hot chili sauce.
Kate had been enslaved to this vision for almost a week. In fact, it had been ever since she had stopped by a friend’s house—a friend who happened to be Vietnamese and an excellent cook—and they had whipped together some leftovers to munch on. At the time, Kate was hungry and excited to eat, but when she took her first bite of the noodle/beef/sauce combination, it awoke in her a haunting desire to taste the same flavors over and over again.
The urge was put on hold while she and Mister traveled to Boston to visit Kate’s brother and his family. But now that they were back, she was on a mission. She surfed the internet for recipes and was not daunted by mysterious ingredients like “lime tree leaves”. Lime was essential. Kate felt that, given the chance, she could consume bushels of limes in a matter of hours. But she decided that her first attempt would be to make Pad Thai. She found a well-reviewed recipe on a generic “how-to” website and then was faced with a new obstacle: where was the nearest Asian grocery store?
As luck would have it, Kate found an enormous Asian supermarket nearby, with dozens of rave reviews online (who goes online to review a grocery store? Kate thought idly,) one family even commented that they came all the way from Richmond to buy coolers full of food. Kate didn’t know quite what to expect, but when she got to the Super H-mart (for this was the undeniably prosaic name of the famed store) she understood the passion that could draw a family north one hundred miles for a grocery run. Going through the produce section alone gave her a sensation akin to that of the Natural History Museum in downtown D.C. Over and over, she thought, Something like that exists? and, What on earth is THAT? And the prices were equally exotic—in a good way. Bunches of herbs were so inexpensive that Kate wanted to gather armfuls of unknown greens simply to try them out. She bought an unearthly amount of basil and cilantro and, of course, limes. She found and purchased fish sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, garlic chili sauce, rice noodles, tamarind paste, and a host of other essentials that Kate knew she could no longer live without.
When she returned home, Mister was there to help her unload the car. “How was it?” he asked.
“Heavenly!” Kate replied dramatically. “Red peppers were on sale for less than a dollar per pound!” she raved, “It’s like when I discovered Aldi… but it’s Aldi on steroids. Such selection! The seafood corner is like going to the aquarium. I have to take my friends there when they come!”
Mister grinned, “Yeah. Who cares about the museums and Lincoln Monument and all that?” he teased.
Kate giggled. “Tourist destination #1: Super H-Mart!”
That evening, Kate nervously followed her Pad Thai recipe. She had never made anything like this before. Not even close. And, as good as her imagination was, she frankly admitted that she never would have dreamed of putting such ingredients together in such a way. She fretted over the sauce and noodles and chicken. What if it wasn’t good enough? What if it didn’t fulfill her vision and infuse her being with the flavors that she so desperately longed for?
Mister was unsympathetic. “You’ve never made something bad,” he encouraged, “it’s going to amazing.”
And, as usual, Mister was right. Kate set the plates down and squeezed two lime wedges over the the tops of each. After the blessing, Kate took a bite and then giggled. How could something be so perfect? Mister listened patiently as she chattered about the ingredients and other recipes she wanted to try. But when he got up for seconds, she stopped abruptly and looked jealously at his plate and at the pan (which still had plenty of leftovers.)
      “Don’t eat all of it,” she warned, “I want to make sure there’s enough left for breakfast.” 

And for those who want it, here's the link to the recipe:

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