Sometimes you just have to wonder about things. For example, how did a Dutch-Irish lad from Nebraska get to the point where his favorite food group was Asian noodle dishes? Things like Phad Thai, Singapore Chow Mei Fun, and the Drunken Noodles at Zen Zero here in Lawrence. You would think that I would have followed in the tradition of my family, and stuck with sliced dead cow and potatoes.
I should not, I suppose, be surprised that I failed to be a standard Nebraskan. I never really felt comfortable in that ultra-conservative environment, and as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I headed West. I did not stop until my front tires were in the Pacific Ocean on the western fringe of San Francisco. I stayed there 25 years, and although I often worked elsewhere, I always had a home in the Bay Area.
I quickly cultivated a love for Asian food of all kinds. There were so many different flavors! Simultaneously, I discovered a deep and abiding love for seafood which has stayed with me to this day. San Francisco is full of both Asian food and seafood, often in the same setting, and I absolutely loved it all. Along the way, I tried pretty much everything else, in terms of cuisines of the world.
Since moving back to the Midwest, though, I have noticed a distinct shortage of seafood. ;o) To make this shortfall more painful, I spent a year in Austin with ready access to the amazing variety of fresh fish at the Fiesta Market. But when you move to Lawrence, Kansas you pretty much have to go cold turkey on seafood. It’s hard to find, which makes it too damned expensive once you have found it. They have a small but reasonable selection at the Mercantile (our local health food Emporium) but you have to take out a mortgage to buy any of it.
So I find myself more and more settling for the comfort and complex flavors of Asian food. The Phad Thai at The Thai Place in Overland Park is forty miles away, but still worth the drive, a uniquely amazing dish. I have not been there for a while, and they have opened several places since then; I hope this is still true. A small local take-out place has a reasonable Singapore Chow Mei Fun, a dish that was introduced to me long ago by a restaurateur In San Mateo, CA name Clement, who died much to young.
And Zen Zero, in downtown Lawrence, does an excellent job with a yellow curry and rice noodle dish that they call Singapore Noodles and a wide-noodle dish that they call Drunken Chicken. Both are absolutely excellent and very reasonably priced, to boot. So, as I wander nearer my dotage, Asian noodle dishes have beat out seafood mainly because of where I live. Beef? Yeah, once in a while. But frankly, it’s a little boring.