Tonight, for only the second time in the entire time I have known him, I saw Joel cry. I’d love to tell you that it was because we had some big emotional bonding moment or something, but it wasn’t. Joel’s tears tonight were the product of another one of our culinary adventures. Since we don’t read Chinese, our method of finding dinner is to walk down a street and see what the vendors are selling from their carts…or, look in a restaurant window and see if they have pictures of the food with the prices next to them. Tonight we happened upon a little restaurant that had two pretty good looking dishes (one looked like chicken curry with rice, and the other looked like a beef noodle soup – but it had flames coming out of the bowl). We figured the flames were a good sign that either the soup would be spicy or the waiter would come out and set it on fire in front of us. Both options seemed fun, so we went in and ordered.
When the food arrived, I gave his soup a try. It tasted so good, but the longer it was on my tongue…the hotter my mouth got. So I stuck to the curry while Joel ate the soup. It wasn’t long before I noticed that he was sniffling a lot, and that beads of sweat were forming on his forehead. He kept saying, “Wow, this stuff is hot!” and pretty soon, he had tears rolling down his cheeks. I really did try not to laugh, but had to give up because it was funny to watch him eating, sniffling, crying, and saying how good it tasted. After we left the restaurant, he said that the spiciness of that soup was “Almost prohibitive.” That says a lot coming from Joel, who never backs away from any spicy food.
On a sweeter note, one stall we found had 6 inch diameter muffins! And at another sidewalk cart a guy was selling little egg custard hockey puck waffle things. We bought two hockey pucks at first and ate them as we were walking away. They were so good that we decided to turn around and buy a few more. I think we must have made the vendor’s night, showing up less than a minute after we left with half-eaten egg custards in hand and wanting to buy more.