Rangoon Burmese Restaurant, Philadelphia

Posted on
Nov 18, 2013

Rand is currently out of town (he left on Sunday morning, and he’ll be back tonight). His absence makes me nervous, because when he is not around, it means that I am alone.

Now, that wouldn’t be a problem except for this: I should not be left alone, ever. Being alone means that I am in charge of my own well-being – a task for which I am woefully unqualified. If I am the only person in the house, I can do whatever I like and there will be no one around to stop me from doing dangerous and calorically irresponsible things, usually while still in my pjs.

Yesterday exemplified this perfectly. I had a lovely morning with Rand, and after he left for the airport, I got to spend a bit of quality time with friends. All of this was wonderful, because it meant that I got to catch up with people who I like, and also because I was beholden to social pressure and the scrutiny of others. So I did all sorts of things which decent, reasonable people do everyday, like put on deodorant and eat vegetables.

When other people are around, I feel an appropriate sense of shame about playing video games on my cell phone for an hour while the TV blares in the background (I’ve found that this two-pronged level of assault on my cognitive system is a great way to unwind). But when I’m alone, I do so without a second thought, usually while not wearing pants.

Also, my dinner may have been cookies and tortilla chips.

The point is: I shouldn’t be left to my own devices, because bad things happen, and even when I try to do things right, I can’t quite seem to.

But maybe that’s okay.

On a chilly afternoon in Philadelphia, after I’d spent the morning roaming around outside locked buildings and pressing my nose against a window in order to get as close to the Liberty Bell as is allowed during a government furlough, I was in need of lunch.

Now, normal people require actual food for sustenance, so lunch for them often means a sandwich, or some soup, or a combination of the two. And I’m no different, as long as you replace the word “sandwich” with cake and the word “soup” with cake, too.

However, I knew I’d be seeing friends later that evening, and I couldn’t tell them that I’d spent the last few hours eating a  bowl of frosting, because they might write to the Federal Government and revoke my right to vote. And I love voting.

So, out of my respect for the democratic process, I looked up some restaurants online, and found some excellent reviews for a Burmese restaurant called Rangoon.

I was incredibly excited about this, because I had no idea what Burmese food consisted of. Perhaps they would serve me a giant cake and call it a salad, and when people asked what I had for lunch I could breezily say, “Oh, just a salad.”

And they would respond something like, “Goodness, you’re responsible. It’s a good thing you’re allowed to vote.”

I took a look at the menu and found myself at a bit of a loss – nothing looked remotely familiar. I grabbed my phone again and read some recommendations on what dishes to order. The internet agreed almost unanimously that the “Thousand Layer Bread” and the crispy watercress salad were delicious (I saw this as a good sign, because the internet only comes to a consensus when something is absolutely true. Which is why it loves cats and Nathan Fillion). So I decided on the bread (with a side of chicken curry dipping sauce) and the salad.

I relayed my order to the waiter, ignored his raised eyebrow, and delighted in my decision. I’d been left to my own devices, and I was eating something besides cupcakes for nourishment! Heck, I’d even ordered a salad. I was being so healthy and responsible! Who knew what the future held? Maybe I’d try jogging, or I’d remember to take my multivitamin. THE POSSIBILITIES WERE ENDLESS.

Seriously, next election, they should let me vote twice.

Then my food arrived. It was fried.

Like, all of it was fried. Even the salad. My salad was fried.

I am going to repeat that, because it is a sentence that is at once beautiful and terrifying. My salad was fried.

I stared blankly at my meal, suddenly understanding why the server had given me a sideways glance as he took my order. It was like walking into a bakery and purchasing a wedding cake.

And then eating the entire thing while sitting in your car in the parking lot.

I mean, what would the staff do if they saw you? They couldn’t stop you, right? They’d just sort of stare, blankly, without uttering a word. Perhaps their mouths would hang open a little bit, or they’d raise an eyebrow, just as my server had.

This is why I can’t be left alone, not even for a minute: because even when I try to be responsible, I end up ordering deep fried everything. Had Rand or anyone else had been there, they’d have likely pointed out that the menu said the watercress was fried. Or they’d have insisted on ordering one other dish, which inevitably would have been healthier.

But instead, I was left staring at two plates of golden fried decadence. And I thought, briefly, about what a decent, reasonable person would do.

And then I ignored all those thoughts, because they were confusing, and proceed to gorge myself. It was wonderful. The salad was bright and tangy, with a hit of sweetness and hot pepper. The crispy bread was a perfect vehicle for delivering the creamy, spicy curry.

As I ate, I could see the staff out of the corner of my eye. They were staring at me with a mix of shock and horror and, I would like to think, a bit of respect, too.

I left, full and happy and feeling a little sick from overindulgence. Later, I caught up with Rand and he asked me how my day had gone. I told him about my adventures, and how I’d had Burmese food for lunch.

“Oooh, what’d you order?”

“Just a salad,” I said.

“That’s it?” he asked. He sounded disappointed. “That’s so … disciplined.”

I smiled and nodded. Yes. Yes, it was.

And then I went upstairs to take off my pants.

Leave a Comment

  • Megan

    Perhaps, one of my favorite posts.

  • Fried = Good. It’s probably a good thing they didn’t have fried twinkies on the menu…

  • Love it! 😛

  • Sarah M.

    I fed my 3-year-old son chips and salsa, and a couple pieces of Halloween candy for lunch yesterday. I made this decision without his input. So, the takeaway on that is to not leave me alone to feed my own child.

  • Joe

    That is glorious. so glorious, they should create a separate “pants free” section in the restaurant for those smart enough to place that kind of order.

  • I agree with Megan above: This is definitely one of my favorite posts. I laughed out loud when I saw the watercress photo : ) That’s my kind of salad!

  • Don’t feel too bad. My husband just left for the week and I had peanut butter for lunch. I couldn’t be bothered to go grocery shopping and buy any bread to put it on so I just had it in the form of a few spoonfulls. It was delicious. Also, that fried salad looks delicious.

  • It’s quite possible that we are twins, separated at birth. The cake thing hit home. I’m not sure on the purpose of other types of food? I made the mistake of looking back through my Instagram photos the other day and realised that pretty much every second shot was food and that about 95% of them involved cake and usually chocolate and most were meals I had eaten alone. Put simply, I should not be left alone to decide on meals.

    This issue had been exacerbated by depression. It seems these days that if I’m alone one of two things will happen: I’ll eat something ridiculous and irresponsible or I’ll eat nothing at all. It sucks when you get to the end of a day and find yourself with a splitting headache because you have simply forgotten to drink or eat anything all day. It also makes an unhealthy diet full of cake seem almost good for you!

    On a lighter note, who needs pants. They’re overrated. Yay for being an adult!

    Thanks for lightening my day…

  • Theresa

    I loved this.
    Also, I am relatively new to your site (maybe one month in?) but have gorged myself on a myriad of your posts both old and new. I am in love with this blog.
    Lastly, I *just* realized all this time I have been picturing Rand with a British accent. I really hope I’m right about this. And if not, just appease me and say that he does in fact have a spectacular accent adopted from across the Big Pond pleaseandthankyou.

    • Everywhereist

      Aww, thanks Theresa! As for the British accent, sadly, no, Rand doesn’t have one (if you want to hear what he sounds like, this is a fun little video he did with some friends).

      But he does do a really awesome Scottish accent.

      • Kristina Cline

        Huh, I have been following your blog for 2 years and I finally hear his voice (the only other time was the proposal commercial and that is a video of a video.)

  • Maryk

    I live in Philly and have eaten at Rangoon many times (it’s only a few blocks from where I work) – the food is wonderful! The curry dip & thousand layer bread is a huge favorite with my colleagues. Also try the mango chicken (see, fruit = healthy), beef keema (served on that great bread), the fried wontons with coconut sauce and the chicken satay. Lots of really good food. It’s kind of a cross between chinese & indian. Yummy!

  • Erin

    Love this post!

    Last summer I went to France with some of my teacher friends. They did not speak any French, but since I remembered it so well from back in high school, I thought I would look super smart if I ordered my lunch in French that first day. The French waitress raised an eyebrow, but it seemed to have worked! Until she returned with my order: a cheese and intestines sandwich (apparently there are many different words for ‘pork’) and a carafe of wine just for me. (The words for ‘glass’ and ‘bottle’ are also a bit tricky.)

    I felt that any decent, reasonable person would never waste WINE in FRANCE! So I finished the whole thing.

  • There’s a far eastern place here that gives you fried spinach. It looks like it’s been through a shredder and then dunked directly into a tub of hot oil. They finish it off with a sprinkling of sugar, as if deep frying spinach wasn’t enough! 😀

    It’s delicious, but not healthy food at ALL.

  • Last weekend I had leftover olives, feta and Doritos for my breakfast. Both days. I hadn’t told anyone about this until now 🙂

  • Kathy

    I laughed when I saw the salad and wanted to try it for myself immediately because the concept of a fried salad is just difficult to comprehend. But it also reminded me of a favorite quote from an old tv show: “If it’s green, it’s trouble. If it’s fried, get double!”

  • This is excellent. Fried salad! I can’t imagine what the waiters must’ve thought but I’m sure you earned their respect!

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