Living in a village of “mai mee”: By Farrah Praisal
Each week when you pick up your copy of
the Chiang Mai Mail you expect to find a write up on a local
restaurant. Perhaps you use this page as a weekly dining
guide or at least a place to chuckle at one person’s opinion
of new places to dine when you have the time. I certainly
hope that I impart some tiny bit of influence on some hungry
sole somewhere with my weekly ramblings. If I do manage to
do this then I must offer my utmost apologies to that sole
this week, and I do hope that he or she doesn’t starve to
death as a result of my failure to provide a restaurant for
you to visit this time around.
Was I ill? Was I off on holiday at some exotic beachfront
location? Was I asked to do a guest review for the New York
Times? Alas, this page is not in this state because of
anything like that. In fact, I went to three different
venues this past week alone, each with the intention of
writing an article about how great the food was, how warm
the atmosphere, how skilled the service staff and how
amicable the proprietor. But I ended up writing this article
instead my friends.
You see, we are not a vicious publication. We have no desire
to hurt, destroy, punish or judge harshly. If it doesn’t
qualify…I don’t write it. As a result of this I was not able
to find a new eatery this week that met my simple
requirements for a friendly, enjoyable review. I have simple
criteria when I write. If deadlines allow I prefer to visit
a place more than once before I hit a single key on the
computer….everybody has a bad day now and then. I judge
pretty evenly on food, service and atmosphere with a point
here and there for things like parking, air conditioning and
dessert offerings (my Achilles heal). I also try to look at
a place for what it is and accept it as such. If I find a
great pizza place I don’t expect chic and stylish
atmosphere. If I stumble upon a fast food shop that tickles
my taste buds I don’t expect four star service. What I do
expect is an attempt at providing not only decent and timely
service at a fair price but also please don’t be out of half
the menu items at 7 p.m.
I can’t begin to count the number of times I have cheerfully
placed my order only to be told MAI MEE! One of the
restaurants that shall remain nameless this week was quick
to tell me that the appetizer we chose was “mai mee” and
then five minutes later came back to announce that the
entrée we ordered was also “mai mee”. I’m beginning to think
restaurants in Chiang Mai should post a “Mai Mee Board” near
the door so customers can see before they enter what the
place is out of and avoid the disappointment of getting
their hopes up and then being told “mai mee”.
Many times my co-diners will tell me to accept the constant
“mai mee”, the bad service, the lack of atmosphere or music.
I am to ignore the uneven timing, the fact that my entrée
came before my appetizer or the sound system is set at a
deafening level ten. Don’t be bothered by the fact that
while my friend is finished I have yet to receive my food.
Let go of the annoyance that what I got was not what I
ordered or that the steak that was requested medium well
moos when I stick my fork in it.
Sorry, can’t do it.
The waitress or waiter is new is unacceptable. Train them
before you cut them loose in the dining room people! Better
yet I like the “Oh, but this is Thailand so you shouldn’t
expect more”. If standards are not expected then none will
ever be met. Perhaps as short a time as seven or eight years
ago I could have gone with the excuse that we are a village
and my expectations are too high but sadly the village is
all but gone and we are in fact a rapidly growing city. If
the hotels and fine dining venues can do it and offer 98% of
the items on the menu on a nightly basis then so can the
rest of you. If a hotel can train a staff of 60 then a small
restaurant must surely be able to train a staff of six. It
is ultimately the chef’s responsibility to know what
quantities to order, to maintain food costs, to inform the
service staff of just what they are serving. These things
seem sorely lacking and I truly hope the winds of change
will start a blowin. Otherwise I will have lots of time for
that exotic beachfront vacation…..I wonder if the New York
Times is hiring?
A dish that you will find in about every restaurant that has any pretensions
to having ‘European’ cuisine. It is a traditional dish from Vienna (Wien), and
although the usual recipe calls for veal, this can be substituted for meat more
readily available, such as pork or chicken (or even turkey). The traditional
recipe also called for the meat to be fried in lard, but today a polyunsaturated
cooking oil would be much superior.
Pound the meat thin and flatten out carefully. Lightly
Prepare three plates: Put flour on one, whisk the two eggs and place on the
second and cover the third with the breadcrumbs.
Now dip the meat in flour first, then into the egg (covering both sides) and
then into the breadcrumbs.
In a frying pan, place the oil, with enough to float the schnitzels. Fry
quickly, turning both sides. Do not overcook or they will become tough and dry.
Serve with your choice of potatoes, though a sliced pan-fried potato with onion
and bacon goes very well with this dish.
Ingredients Serves 4
Veal/pork/chicken 4 x 120 gm
For the breading:
Breadcrumbs (commercially available)
Salt to taste
Oil for frying