Food can be so much more than just sustenance and nutrition. It’s what brings friends and families – or even strangers – together to create memories that will never be forgotten. It can be more than just your scheduled meal of the day, but an adventure and a special occasion. Emmaline Murray talks about her friendship with Hana with such charming words in an ode to the food they’ve experienced together in Bath.
We’d known each other for about a month when Hana and I went on a date. Not a romantic one, and not even strictly platonic. We barely knew each other beyond our first names. Nevertheless, I found myself standing in the sunshine outside of Thai Hut on a Thursday afternoon, waiting for someone I wasn’t even completely sure would turn up.
If you ever need to find Hana, look for her hair. It’s this crazy, curly kind of hair that I now know she tames with about six million products every other day.
I was nervous about the food. I had seen Hana go out with our group of friends and inhale Nando’s extra hot chicken and proceed to complain about the lack of spice. How was I, a girl not used to anything spicier than salt, supposed to keep it together and enjoy what she clearly hoped would be satisfyingly hot?
Naturally, that wasn’t my only concern. Between my fear of accidentally ingesting a pepper and trying to play it cool, I messed up when I was speaking and asked for no rice. The woman serving me was understandably confused and handed over a box of Green Thai curry – no rice. Hana received her own meal, carbs and all, and we made our first rule: speak up for the other person if they look lost.
She made a cute video about the whole experience, mostly featuring a bee that wouldn’t leave us alone for more than a few seconds at a time. This began the vlogs and blogs aspect of our friendship.
The next time we went out to dinner, it was to a much fancier place: Thai Balcony. Yes, we did see the theme of our first two meals. We both dressed up and enjoyed an evening of fine dining in the heart of Bath. This time, we spoke about our families, and how we were actually a lot more similar than we had first anticipated. It was the kind of luxury being a student doesn’t usually afford you, and it was wonderful to feel like we could afford such a night out (we couldn’t). Queue another adorable video.
With a growing list of Asian restaurants to experience, we fretted briefly over how we’d possibly try them all, or even maintain a friendship beyond the food. Naturally, moving in together seemed to be the logical solution.
I disappeared for three months back to America. She disappeared for three months back to Malaysia. We complained about the heat in our respective areas, and our third housemate, Kai, told us how excruciating the heatwave in Great Britain was. I laughed and jumped in the lake, Hana laughed and basked naked in her air conditioning. Kai suffered.
Eventually though, the heatwave broke, I flew back from the USA, and Hana graced us with her presence on moving day. I dragged my belongings into the back of my father’s old furniture van and my mom and I trundled on up to my new lodgings. We met Hana, her mother and brother there, shortly after my mother had backed the van into the house (nice, Mom). I was gobsmacked by how much they reminded me of my own, sarcastic, piss-taking family. When my mother unceremoniously said goodbye (a repetition of all the years before), and left me in a new place, there were at least other people wandering around, and someone I was tentatively beginning to consider a friend.
If I were to define the stages of our friendship, I would have to do it with food. The beginning would be Thai food, and when we moved in together, I’d categorise that as the Tea and Eggs portion of our relationship.
Hana disappeared off to Rome, and arrived back when Kai moved in a week later. I offered to make her breakfast one morning, and she introduced me to the wonders of meditation. We have struck up a give-and-take kind of friendship, and it keeps us both from falling off our rockers. In two months of living together, we’d become necessary to each other, if only to have someone to eat breakfast with.
We now freely admit to being like an old married couple. Hana wakes me up early, and I make the breakfast. She provides boppin’ playlists for us to dance to. In the beginning, it was all love songs and talking about the people we liked, then, it was breakup songs and swearing when one would come on that reminded us of someone. We’re now in this wonderfully comfortable situation where there’s a lot of calm, Dodie-esque music floating through the kitchen. I take my eggs with avocado. She takes hers without. She takes her tea with sugar. I take mine without. We still love Thai food.
Words by Emmaline Murray
Featured Image by Peter Hershey