28 CH28: The beautiful Somtam

    "Fill your plate with the colour of the rainbow,

    what pleases the eyes, pleases the body as a whole."

    - Deepak Chopra


    It was a bright Sunday morning, with the curtains opened up wide, inviting the sunlight to light up the dining room at Delilah's home. The day was hot, where there was little wind in the air. Delilah had to switch on the ceiling fan to keep herself cool.

    She was having her breakfast, a simple meal of boiled eggs and peanut butter toast. She was about to pour some soy sauce on her eggs when her nephew came running in, screaming. His eyes were still brimming in tears as he ran towards Delilah, crying.

    Delilah cringed at the sudden scream and asked softly, "Kael, what's wrong?"

    Kael sniffed loudly, rubbing his eyes. "Ma... mama... I don't want... Mama angry... Don't want... shower... Want play...." he sobbed.

    Delilah stroked his head and lifted him onto her lap, hugging him. "Awww... Don't be sad. It's ok. Hug me!"

    Kael returned her hug, still crying.

    Shortly after, Miya came in, with an angry scowl on her face. When she saw Delilah babying Kael on her lap, her scowl deepened and she stomped towards them. Miya grabbed Kael and scolded, "Stop crying and get back upstairs for a shower!"

    Kael began to scream. "No! No! I don't want!" he screamed, while shaking his head. He tried to grab Delilah but Miya had already lifted him into her arms. She then lifted Kael onto her shoulder, ignoring his squirming around.

    Miya smacked him on the butt, not too rough. "Stop it. You'll fall down and hurt yourself!"

    Delilah watched the whole scene in front of her, while eating her eggs. "So, why is he crying?"

    "I told him to go and take a bath. Because his grandparents will be picking him up for an outing," her sister explained, still holding tight to the wriggling child. The grandparents Miya was referring to were her in-laws.

    "I see," Delilah nodded in understanding. Her sister and her family stayed in their house. They do not have a home of their own, even though, Miya wanted one. Before Delilah and Miya's mother passed away a year ago, Miya actually had looked around for a new house to stay in, with her husband and son. But then their mother unexpectedly died so they had to postponed their plans because they would not want their father to stay alone in their current house. Even if Delilah and her other brother were still staying there. Miya did discussed with Delilah before on how she would like to look for a much bigger house where they could all live together.

    Delilah turned back to her meal, while fiddling with her phone.

    "Oh yeah, you better go take a shower too," Miya said to Delilah, as she was about to climb up the stairs.

    Delilah turned back to Miya and whined, "Ehhhhh! But why??"

    "I want to go to this convention and I need you to accompany me."

    "Ehhhhhhh.... But I don't wanna go," Delilah groaned. "I want to stay at home and do nothing!"

    "It's a food expo," Miya said calmly.

    Delilah stuffed her peanut butter toast into her mouth and quickly chewed. She pushed Miya out of the way as she ran up the stairs. "Okay, lets go. Can't be late!"


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    Every six months, the tourism board of the country would hold a food convention, where they will invite many food vendors with different cuisines to showcase their country's specialty and local dishes. Most of the countries were from South East Asia, where one might see local dishes from Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and more.

    The convention usually held at the international convention center, where there will be a huge wide hall, perfect for booths to be set up. There were more space to set up a dining area.

    The food convention normally lasted for three days, which was during the weekend. And also nearer to the end of the month. This was because it was convenient, especially when payday was nearer to the end of the month, as well.

    When Delilah and Miya arrived at the international convention center, the place was packed with people. There were people queuing at certain stalls and people sitting at the dining area, clearly enjoying their food. It was as if nearly everyone in town were here. Luckily, the place was air conditioned, so it was not too hot.

    Delilah had been craving for some somtam, which was Thailand's delicacy, also known as papaya salad. It can also be mango salad, as well. She loved the taste of both spicy and sour at the same time. She immediately went straight for the stall that sells it and ordered one.

    She waited patiently as she watched the vendor prepare her somtam. Her sister, Miya, was at the other stall to buy some drinks for them. The vendor first grabbed two cloves of peeled garlic and chilies and put it in a large mortar. She then began to pound them into smaller bits. Then she poured in a bit of palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. The vendor then swiftly mixed the ingredients together while pounding at the same time. Then she added some crushed peanuts, dried shrimps and some tomatoes and pound them altogether softly. She then tossed handfuls of shredded green papaya into the mixture and mixed them thoroughly.

    Delilah watched as the food vendor scooped the somtam into an empty takeout container and handed it to her. She then paid for her food and went to look for her sister.

    She found Miya sitting alone at one of the tables in the dining area, eating some noodles. She was eating some fried noodles with chicken. Miya looked up when she saw Delilah approached.

    Delilah grabbed a seat and sat down, placing the somtam takeout on the table, between them. She then opened the takeout and grabbed a spork. She scooped some somtam and eat. She loved how the colours of the somtam blended gorgeously together. It was like a rainbow! The beautiful range of flavours hit her tongue as she chewed on the wet and sour shredded green papaya. But as she ate more, the lingering spicy taste finally strike her taste buds. Though, it was a satisfying feeling as she loved the combination of spicy, sweet and sour at the same time. Although, the shredded green papaya tasted tangy but with the sauce, it tastes less crunchy and more zesty.

    Miya also sneaked in a bite and closed her eyes in bliss.

    The two sisters continued to enjoy their food, while talking about what has been going on at home and at work and also laughed over Kael's antics. He has become mischievous lately, sometimes whenever Miya wanted to scold him, she had to control her facial expression. He really knows how to make use of his tears as well as giving reasons to not do his homework.

    There were times that Miya had given up and passed the baton to Delilah, much to Delilah's annoyance. One time, Delilah tried to help Kael with his homework. But he was too easily distracted, playing with his toys and scribbling doodles in his homework, instead. Delilah got so frustrated that she picked up his homework and the child himself. She carried the child and the homework in her arms to Miya's room. She then dumped Kael onto the bed, making him giggle. Her sister, who was lying on her stomach on her bed, looked up in surprise.

    "I give up," Delilah said simply and left the room.

    Before they left the convention center, Delilah and Miya stopped at several more stalls to buy some food. By the time that they had finished, their hands were filled with takeouts and plastic bags. It appears that they have become richer in food and poorer in money.

    As they were about to leave the center, Delilah had run into one of her colleagues from work. Her colleague greeted her with a wave and a huge smile. She then laughed when she saw the many bags in Delilah's hands. "Wow, you've been shopping, haven't you?"

    Delilah grinned. "Yup! The type of shopping that I love!"
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