Sunday, November 02, 2014
[Poem] Ode to Laoducken
Mae tries to be accommodating.
New land, new life.
Old recipes have ingredients hard to find
Without paying a big price out here.
You can find aunties who still remember
The 80s horror of tom mak hung made with carrots
Because asking for a green papaya gave you away
Like a Martian fresh from a war in the produce aisle.
When no one is looking, jellied blood,
Barbecue duck heads and padaek come out.
Jumping shrimp salad, not so much,
But you can still get ant egg soup for special occasions.
In November, we celebrate Thanksgiving "like everyone else."
Mae says "khin khao," sets a table halfway between worlds.
Laab turkey, barbecued sausage stuffed with herbs and lemongrass,
Jaew with fresh garlic and fish oil, fried tilapia stuffed with bamboo.
Spring rolls, khao nhio, musubi, mini-corn dogs, and turkey kowpoon.
This year her Laoducken is a hot mess.
What could you expect, stuffing a duck and a chicken in a turkey,
Wrapped in bacon and her secret marinade she'll take to her grave.
But it's saep, more than the day she tried beer can chicken
Refilling an empty Schlitz with BeerLao or her spicy mango pie
Which sounded better than it tasted to everyone's surprise.
"If you're such a great cook, what did you bring?" she asks,
Waiting for me to eat her mashed potatoes, each bite
Anticipating a bombie the shape of a diced backyard pepper.
A memory, a family from a secret war
We're supposed to be thankful for.