Unavoidably, time passes, things change, and the end of a year often brings up reflections on the differences between then (whenever that was) and now. I recently came across this post written in July 2009 for a previous blog and was taken aback by just how much things have changed since I wrote it.
rocking my world with nam sod
I found when I awoke on the dirty floor of our garage, with blood coming out of my nose and Zak frantically shaking me . . . that I had a sudden craving for nam sod. —Barbara Fisher, in her food blog, Tigers & Strawberries
Too funny! I was already thinking about nam sod when I came across this line, and it made me laugh out loud. Nam sod—a Thai salad made with ground pork, ginger, red onion, lemon or lime juice, the obligatory fish sauce, cilantro, and chili peppers, garnished with peanuts and served on lettuce leaves—is definitely one of the seven food wonders of my world. It has that combination of cilantro and ginger that transports me to another dimension, at least as prepared by Orchid Thai restaurant in San Anselmo, California. Some recipes call for mint in addition to, or (horror!) in place of the cilantro. Orchid Thai eschews the mint; I’m fine with that.
I got to share an order of nam sod when I visited the Bay Area last month, and my traveling companion, who’d never tasted it before, unfortunately found it nearly as delicious as I do. I would have been willing to consume her portion had she not found it to her liking. Still, half an order of nam sod is better than no nam sod at all. When I lived in the Bay Area, I’d go to Orchid Thai on my birthday to have this dish. Nam sod would be what I’d want as a last meal, although hopefully no one will be asking me to make that choice any time soon.
The name sort of sounds like something you’d shout while raising your fist—or a sword—into the air: Nam sod! Right? Which is exactly how I feel every time the waiter sets a plate of it down in front of me. Nam sod!
Well, I became vegetarian over three years ago, so it’s been quite a while since I’ve tasted nam sod. Yes, the idea of it still kind of makes my mouth water, but no, I wouldn’t eat it even if a beautifully garnished serving were placed in front of me.
In February of this year, I was diagnosed with a couple of heart conditions. The meds I’m on as a result require some dietary restrictions. I’m not, for example, supposed to have any cilantro or ginger. I attempt to be reasonable, but I can’t say I’m 100% compliant.
Even worse, Orchid Thai is no longer in business. On the one hand, that does make it a little easier to come to terms with never having nam sod again, since theirs was the best. On the other hand, they served other dishes that I would really like to taste again. There were definitely more delicious meals to be enjoyed there.
Finally, the traveling companion of this story—my friend, Patricia—passed away last week. We had many good times together after the hiking trip that took us from Albuquerque to the Bay Area and to dinner at Orchid Thai. And as it happens there’s a restaurant in Albuquerque named Thai Orchid that we frequented numerous times. But it wasn’t quite the same. Patricia and I definitely had more adventures left in us, more trips to take, more meals to enjoy.
In the spirit of the original post, here’s to good food, good hiking, and good friends. Nam sod, Patricia. Nam sod!