Fake Burmese Plastic Chicken
They say that the appearance of a dish greatly influences how you perceive its flavour, and I would normally agree, but have recently heard of an extreme case on the streets of Yangon. I have always heeded the sound advice I once read concerning street food in Asia, that if it is deep fried or baked it is good to go. Well, there is a new kid on the block and they think outside of the box on this one. Certain vendors in the infamous Scott Market of Yangon have taken to melting plastic water bottles in the deep friers in an attempt to make their fried goods stay extra crispy, and to make them sheen in the noon day sun.
Now, as a southerner, fried foods run thick and deep in my veins, and to be 100% honest, there is a part of me that would knowingly dig in to a hunk of plastic fried chicken and, so long as the salt and umami flavours were rightfully balanced, I could happily go on with my day without a regret (I mean hell, Kraft singles aren’t too different….right?). But the whole affair sparked a thought that stuck with me: those plastic fried chicken hunks on the streets of Yangon remind me of certain aspects of tourism and the difficulty of travel, that there are folks out there, a lot of them, that look real shiny in the noonday sun, but when you bite into them they are plastic. Hotel websites, tour agencies, experiences for hire, can look real nice online, but fall flaccid in the harsh light of the day. This is precisely why a handful of times throughout the year, we pack up a bag and head out on the road to kick the tires ourselves, to throw caution to the wind and try things live in person. To strut for a moment. We may not be the prettiest at the party and perhaps we have a funny name, but our trips are not veneered with plastic, our salt and umami are in perfect balance and we know which vendor to buy from in markets from Beaune to Yangon.