Note: This story was created in 40 minutes in one of our writing sessions. The story is based on the following writing prompt – Tell the story of the relationship between a chef and her signature dish.
Hor mok hoy – Martha Supajirawatananon
Her heart sank when they announced her name for the award.
“And best all-time dish goes to…Suwanee “Sue” Supanburi for mussel hor mok hoy!”
Huge applause erupted all around with whoops from several of the scattered tables. A shadow of a frown passed briefly over her face before erupting into surprise and delight as she felt the spotlight fall on her. She stumbled up a bit too quickly and made her way to the stage.
“Kap kun ma ka, thank you so much!” she began. “Thank you for this honour. I am just so grateful. I just never expected it to take off in this way. I know one thing though, you’ve never forgotten it! Thank you, thank you!”
She muddled her way back to her seat, award in tow, her friend next to her giving her a congratulatory nudge. She continued to watch the rest of the show but with a furrow in her brow that progressively furrowed more and more deeply, despite her best efforts.
At the after party, Ben Smith, one of the judges, congratulated her. “Sawadee kap,” he greeted her in his broad English accent. “There really was no contest. It was unanimous. We can’t wait to sample more Thai delights in the new season.” Suwanee smiled a smile that imperceptibly did not quite reach her eyes.
Just then her agent, Sally Maxwell, blustered in, all red lips and big beads. “About bloody time Ben!” she boomed. “Finally, not only a woman, but a woman of colour!”
Ben’s face took on a pinkish hue. “Yes, ahem,” he cleared his throat, “Well, it really is a splendid dish.” He adjusted his collar and politely took his leave, muttering something about the arrival of a new plate of amuse bouche.
“Well,” said Sally, grasping Suwanee firmly by the shoulders and kissing her first on one cheek, then the other, “Isn’t this just wonderful?!” She took out a rather large chintzy handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes. Suwanee took a large gulp of her cocktail and nodded.
Sally gathered herself once again and said, “Well, that confirms it then. They love your Thai. So let’s have no more of this crazy French talk, okay darling?”
Suwanee disposed of her cocktail glass on a passing waiter’s tray. “Sally, I’m lost for words,” she said sincerely. “I’m going home. Need to process.”
The taxi driver’s chatter was quite unwelcome. Suwanee took a breath and feigned interest.
“What you got there?” he asked, his dark eyes falling on her trophy.
“Oh, it’s an award,” she said, accidentally nonchalantly. “They love my home cooking.” She gave a half giggle, half sob and an apologetic shrug of the shoulders.
“I got an award once,” the driver said, “for piloting.”
“Oh,” said Suwanee, puzzled. “So how did you become a driver?”
“Well, people thought I drove better, so here I am…”
“Yes, here I am…” echoed Suwanee, heart breaking as she thought of next season’s Thai menu.