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Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Beware of little prawns

There is a food court near my present home in Penang where there is a stall selling Thai dishes. The first time I went there I tried speaking in Thai but the woman did not understand me. Later I heard some of the others on the stall speaking Thai. Since then I always order my food in Thai. I enjoy practising Thai. I don't want to lose it.

Recently I was disappointed to find the Thai stall was having a day off. I looked around to see what else was on offer. One stall offered a dish called 'Thai noodles'. The photo looked like Pad Thai and had a couple of prawns on top.

'Is this Pad Thai?' I asked. It was, so I started to explain that I didn't want prawns or peanuts. The woman seemed a little confused and when she spoke I think she dropped in a Thai word. Not sure but somehow I got the impression she might be Thai, so I asked, 'Khun pen khon Thai mai khrap?' Are you Thai?

She was, so I was able to order it properly and she understood. At least she seemed to. But after the meal was delivered I started eating it and had eaten a bit when I realised that the little red things were small prawns, what they call 'goong lek'. Fortunately my allergy is not too sensitive these days. I was able to pick out all the little prawns and eat most of the rest of the dish.

I'd finished my meal and was drinking some juice when the woman came walking past. She smiled. 'Me goong lek,' I said to her. 'Phom pare goong.' It had small prawns. I'm allergic to prawns. She looked very embarrassed and started rambling on in Thai much to fast for me to understand her but she ended by saying in English, 'Sorry'. I guess she understands now so perhaps I'll give her another try in the future.

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