Pink Noodle Soup

My son used to subsist on nothing but air and a few Cheerios pulled from a baggie I would tote around with me wherever we went in the hope that I could ply him with a few every now and then. Food was of absolutely no interest to him. At times, he would get so skinny he was practically transparent. When he was a toddler, his pants would sometimes fall down to his ankles as he walked. I’m not exaggerating when I say that as an anxious first-time mother, I would sometimes weep over my child’s unwillingness to eat. Just when I had finally resigned myself to the fact that he would waste away on his meager Cheerios diet, he underwent a dramatic transformation. Suddenly, he began to devour astonishing quantities of food, the weirder and more exotic the food, the better.

Nowadays, it’s so much fun to go out to eat with my budding epicure, because he’s so much more adventurous than the rest of us. Yesterday we tried Thai Cuisine and Noodle House here in Charlottesville for the first time and while I ordered my usual boring old standby – Pad See Ew, he ordered one of the Chef’s Specials, Yen Ta Fo, or Pink Noodle Soup. I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like, and when it arrived at our table, it didn’t disappoint. We both couldn’t resist whipping out our phones to take pictures.

“I know I’m being so basic, but I can’t help myself,” my son said. “It’s going on my Instagram and I’m going to be made fun of for it, but I don’t even care.”

“Me too,” I said, busily snapping away, “This is really shameful what we’re doing and we look ridiculous, but I mean, come on! Look at it! It’s PINK!”

You can choose between wide rice noodles or bean noodles, and it comes with barbecued pork, squid rings, fish balls, some cracker like things, bok choy, green onion, and cilantro. The pink tint comes from tomato sauce added to the broth. It’s deliciously sour in a subtle, unexpected way. There were a few transparent stringy things he fished out of his bowl that he couldn’t identify, even after tasting it.

“Jellyfish?” I guessed, “Or some kind of vegetable, maybe?”

“I have no idea what it is,” he said, “But it tastes really good.”

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