Respect for the Hustle

Because people know that I mainly write about Thai food and can get riled up easily, they like to show me this-or-that made-up list that presumes to rank all of the foods (or eateries) of the world. Let’s just call this what it is and say that this is straight up, professional trolling, in guises ranging from intentionally provocative to “fake it till you make it”-style authoritative. For this reason, I don’t like to name these kinds of organizations, but I’ve written about the provocative one before.

That said, I can’t help but admire these people. Who knew that a bunch of Croatians could just get together in their office someday and throw around a bunch of ideas long enough to create a completely arbitrary list that gets clicks from outraged people and others who actually take their opinions seriously alike? I applaud this hustle. I, myself, cannot get arrested for my terrible opinions, but these guys actually get reposted, with people cheering on/bewailing this or that string of words they’ve made, and/or bemoaning the publication of some other half-baked barely-researched thing told to them by their local takeout person down the street. Congrats, guys! Or, I mean, “Čestitamo”.

Another person I applaud for their hustle, and I mean this without any tinge of the sarcasm or sour grapes that I’ve displayed above, is Jay Nok. You might know her from Mark’s video from the “Fruit Queen of Thailand“, which has brought people from all over the world to this little open-air fruit shack on the outskirts of Bangkok. Or you just might know her because you just really love fruit. Her place is called “Jay Nok Gratawn Song Krueng”, which centers on the Thai dish of santol fruit in a sweet-and-savory dressing, especially popular in the rainy season. But her place really sells every fruit, from plums and strawberries to seasonal specialties like custard apples or durian, along with a profusion of juices, curries, chili dips, snacks, and even fermented rice noodles. As Jay Nok told me when I went there as a fixer with the Street Eats team: “I just really like pretty things”. And it’s true — all the colorful fruits and juices and pre-prepared foods are beautiful.

But the one thing that is really clever is this:

This is an ice cream “sundae” made of Jay Nok’s home made “ruam mitr” (Thai sweets in coconut milk) ice cream, topped with fried mung beans and maybe an ice cream cone or two, but instead of being placed in a traditional hot dog bun like you would get elsewhere in Thailand, you get two enormous durian pods. What I’m talking about is this, modeled by our producer Ali:

This is fever dream stuff, sprouting from the recesses of the brain when you’re deep in REM sleep and your eyeballs are moving back and forth like a Chinese ping pong game. The ice cream and crunchy mung beans are great in and of themselves; add the ice cream cones and you’re well and truly in business; but then the durian pods — enormous, the size of a jumbo hot dog bun — just take this beyond into Crazytown, population everyone in line for this dish. And believe me, there is a line, a long one.

So if you have the time (and maybe your own transport, because getting a taxi out there is really hard, no joke), head on over the Jay Nok and visit her beautiful fruit for yourself. Gaze at the mangosteens, gape at the young dates suspended from the ceiling, consider the curries. Get a scoop of ice cream or two, maybe in a cone. Crazytown is optional.

Jay Nok and Lucas, in front of the sweet fish sauce

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