My first real job was working in a Chinese restaurant. In fact I worked there for three years, straight through high school until I left for college. I started as a hostess and all I did was seat people. All. Night. Long.
After some time I proved myself proficiently skilled in arranging tables and truly mastered the phrase, “Party of two? Right this way please.” It’s really an art.
As much as I loved walking walking back and forth through the restaurant with stacks of menus, I was overjoyed when I was promoted to cashier. And it didn’t take long for me to tackle a second position, Chef To-Go.
Okay that’s not actually a real title, I just took take-out orders and packed them in addition to my cashier duties. But man, I was one heck of a chinese-food-packer. Wrapping those foldable boxes in cellophane is trickier than it looks. Trust me, I know.
And you would not believe how many people expect you to just know that they are allergic to peanuts and how dare you put them in my order.
Eventually, I became a waitress. And that was my real time to shine. At one point I swear I could carry a full tray of water glasses in one hand and five fully-dressed salad plates on the other arm all at the same time. I considered joining the traveling circus, but when they couldn’t guarantee the income I was already generating in tips at the restaurant, I decided to let that dream go.
Sometimes I still wonder if I passed up my true calling in life.
I don’t know the name of the chef who worked in our restaurant. I should, but I don’t. Because we only called him X. I’m completely serious. X, I need a second order of the lo mein, but hold the onions!
At the end of the night when the last customers had finally wandered out and we began cleaning and resetting the place for another day, X would fix us something delicious. Sometimes he’d ask what we wanted and we would request our favorites from the menu. But other times, he’d surprise us with new creations.
One such night he presented us with a gigantic bowl of something I didn’t recognize, though many of my more Asian-cuisine-savvy coworkers apparently were familiar with and loved the dish. I dished it up. Ate it. (with chopsticks p.s.) And loooooved it. Turns out it was shrimp pad thai.
Shrimp pad thai, come to mama.
I left that phase of my life long ago when I left for college, and I’ve had several jobs since. Sometimes I think back though and remember some of the seriously amazing dishes that X would make for the crew each night. One thing is for sure, I’ll never forget that first time I tried shrimp pad thai.
I’ve had it many times since and I just cannot get enough. I’ve been dying to have it for a while and finally decided it just needed to be done. I had to make it. With real fish sauce. Because that’s the legit way to do it. So I bought some fish sauce, and brought on a wave of nostalgia with this Asian beauty of a meal. If you like pad thai, you’ll love this. If you’ve never had pad thai? Well then it’s about dang time you tried it.