One of the great culinary mysteries in contemporary America is the sudden popularity of restaurants from Thailand. Most often found in emerging urban neighborhoods, these establishments offer a concoction of burnt noodles and milky gravy known as curry. The food tastes aggressively of spices and is characterized by a tangy flavor that suggests urine. This strange new cuisine has even outpaced far more edible and affordable Chinese fare.
The story of Thai food becomes even stranger when one considers its ties to the homosexual community. Gays profess an extreme fetish for these Asian meals. Indeed, in New York City’s theatrical neighborhood of Chelsea, these sorts of places parade down the avenues with reckless pride. In Chicago’s Boystown and in San Francisco’s Castro district, two known gay locales, one sees a Siam Palace or a Bangkok Bistro pimping itself out with a flashing sign on every block.
Is there more than just a casual correlation between this unpleasant foodstuff and an unpleasant lifestyle choice? Can a cuisine actually contribute to sexual behavior or, even worse, alter natural reproductive instincts?
Single and alone in a big city, young men gravitate towards new experiences. They seek to make friends and gain status in competitive worlds. Away from the homecooked meals of their mothers, Thai food seems intriguing enough. “Everyone is doing it,” a fresh-faced boy might say. After an exhausting day of work, it takes too much effort to cook something elaborate in your own kitchen. These murky restaurants even allow a person to sit alone, with plenty of time to marvel at the flamboyant décor. The attentive waiters hover close like dutiful wives, refilling your water glass in an instant. They lay elaborate appetizers before you with delicate fingers. They stand by in the darkened corners, leaning suggestively against the wall, flashing their eyes at your curiosity. You hear the gentle murmurs of their tender tongue and you are lulled into a false sense of security.
Or maybe it’s the mysterious, dark-skinned man who shows up at your door with a steaming package. He surveys the disposal of twenty-something disposable income about your apartment– the flatscreen television, the mid-century modern coffee table, the Mongoose mountain bike with its soft leather saddle… His heavy eyelashes will flutter with anticipation. You may flush and somehow your mind will run off to a quiet beach, the azure waters stroking your toes, the sun baking your back, that rustic bungalow a few yards off the shore with its simple mattress and rattan shades that drop quickly when you unloop their harnesses, the exotic man from the beach in his pert red speedo throws back his long, silky hair… Yes, it is something monumentally tragic to contemplate. The seeds of fantasy so causally dropped in your lap.
And the more you eat of this food, the less likely you are to look for a woman to cook for you. Takeout is just too easy. The natural role of the girl as one’s life companion and reproductive partner is discarded in the trash just as easily as those plastic forks and grease-stained paper bags.
This predicament rarely happens with other cuisines. Chinese dishes, much like the people who eat them, are businesslike and oily. Mexican is defined by beans and tortillas, a fast food to be consumed on the go and disposed of privately just as quickly. German and British cuisines consist of decomposing meats and require large amounts of salt or alcohol to blunt their putrid taste. Italian is a messy finger snack for children who like to pinch slippery noodles but it has no place in an adult kitchen. Finally, French cooking can be shrugged off as a pretentious idea, something that people talk about in the abstract but rarely pursue in real life.
As for Thai, it has little respect for American traditions. The food is neither solid nor meaty. It’s diced and chopped up into little bits, almost like bird food, so that you may peck at it languidly. The flavor is far too saucy, forcing an outrageous combination of peanut butter and peppers on the unsuspecting. Brightly colored, it’s easy to spot in a room with low lighting. It appeals to the indulgent side of a man. It makes him crave nightclub nightspot types of environments. The taste buds of the Thai food eater become so accustomed to this hype that the normal family meals of one’s childhood seem mundane in retrospect. Yes, Mother’s cheeseburgers become but a vague memory. Masculine nourishment seems just so unfashionable.
Yet this cuisine also comes with an age restriction. For older Americans, it wreaks havoc on the digestive tracts. Quite simply, it’s not binding enough. The ginger burns going in and coming out. A single visit to the bathroom never suffices after a Thai meal. You need to return again and again throughout the evening to insure that your intestines are fully purged. And even afterward, the stinging sensation will haunt you as you toss in bed. The awkward chopsticks these restaurants provide also insures that something off a goopy plate will end up on your sweater. How many times have people like us left these places with deep, expensive stains that no amount of laundering will resolve? In every way, Thai dinners come at too great a cost.
Enter into any Thai restaurant and you will encounter a homosexual. Sometimes they are alone; often they come in groups shrieking at ear-piercing levels over abundant glasses of fruity cocktails. They sashay around the tables, flirting shamelessly with their waiters. They tell raunchy stories for everyone in the establishment to hear. Why do they love this painful and absurd cuisine? Does punishing their intestines excite their perverted sexual personas? Is it because such environments visibly approve of their elaborate lifestyle choice? In a Thai restaurant, the homosexual thinks he can let his hair down. These rich, indulgent dishes are like a drug, packing a strong dose of energy into each little bite. This fuels the excess that inevitably follows. Next stop is the late night disco or an intense session of man on man penetration discharged into the early dawn. Yes, the undeniable underside of Thai food is that it goes hand in hand with the complete destruction of masculine morality.
The fact that Thai restaurants foster pansexuality with their gaudy erotic interiors is one reason to avoid them. The food itself shakes the patron loose from America’s most sacred culinary traditions. It forces him to rebel physically and spiritually, by rejecting homefront homecooking and looking longingly towards the East. Like secret agents of perversion, the waitstaff is ready in the wings for any opportunity to strike. These quixotic Thais, so wholly committed to a life of sensual pleasure, brush their clientele with smooth, soft arms. They ask gentle questions and linger when the check is laid down. They seize upon a handsome heartland boy with his perky biceps and tight t-shirt. He’s all alone in the big city. He’s away from Mother and maybe suffering from the burning sexual urges of the young, anxious for a sweaty exploration of a foreign body, the biting, the spitting and spanking that the anonymity of an urban apartment allows. Is there any looking back after that first bite of Pad Thai? For an entire generation of America’s innocent young men the answer, sadly, is no.