The ubiquitous small stools

Small plastic stools

If there is one thing I take from the works of Anthony Bourdain, it’s that food tastes better on a low plastic stool amid the durian and diesal fumes. However, eating out of your comfort zone needn’t be limited to balut and slabs of congealed pig’s blood at Philippino street markets, there is a correlation between your literal comfort and the authentic quality of street food. Just don’t get too comfortable.

Second to the consumption of raw milk cheese, the illegal misuse of milk crates has long been a crime of choice for foodies. Undoubtedly, some of my most memorable meals have been on milk crates or low plastic stools, but at times they have been memorable for the wrong reasons. It is well established that we were never meant to sit on toilets, we were meant to squat in the field–removing a significant angle between where that questionable gado-gado is, and where it’s going to come out. I recall a time squatting in a warung just outside of Surabaya, enjoying this raw vegetable salad (first mistake) with a spicy peanut sauce dressing. Chocking on the fumes from the bright orange and noisy bajaj passing by the warung I noticed I had spilled some of the peanut sauce down my leg. Performing some improvised dry-cleaning with a lemping cracker that typically adorns gado-gado, I scraped the peanut sauce off my leg only to notice a corn kernel. Although it is common to substitute peanuts for kidney beans giving a richer taste to the sauce, I had never heard of corn being used. As I stood up to question the roadside vendor, I noticed a slight adhesion to the stool–I had been a little too comfortable.

Are you happiest eating bun cha on a low plastic stool?

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