Heirs step up efforts as Covid deaths rock street food stalls
The next generation takes the aprons, preserving the legacy of parents
Adulwitch Tangsupmanee, 42, holds a photo of his father Chanchai Tangsupmanee, who died at 73 from coronavirus disease in July, and poses at his late father’s food stall in Bangkok’s Chinatown on October 6 this year. (Reuters photo)
Every morning, Adulwitch Tangsupmanee brings a cart of crispy pork belly to a run down cinema in Bangkok’s Chinatown and sets up the same street food stand that her internationally renowned father ran for nearly 50 years before he died of Covid- 19 in July.
While an aromatic pork broth simmers, Mr. Adulwitch carefully places a framed photo of his late father, Chanchai, above the stall window, adorned with Michelin Guide accolades from 2018 to 2021.
“I made the broth for my dad when he was here, and I always do it when he’s gone,” said Mr Adulwitch, 42. “I feel he’s still here.”
Known to many as “Elder Brother Ouan”, Mr. Chanchai stood behind the same sales cart. guay jub rolled rice noodle soup for decades until his death at the age of 73. (continued below)
Adulwitch Tangsupmanee and Jirintat, son and daughter of Chanchai Tangsupmanee, who died at the age of 73 of coronavirus disease in July, prepare meals at their late father’s food stall in Bangkok’s Chinatown on October 6 this year. year. (Reuters photo)
He was one of seven well-known sidewalk chefs that Bangkok’s famous street food scene has lost to coronavirus in recent months, according to a Reuters tally, the latest blow to the culture of flat stalls unique.
The deaths of Chanchai and his contemporaries left a legacy of rich flavor in the hands of their children, who are committed to carrying on the traditions that over the decades have propelled Bangkok into the global mecca of street food.
As the city is set to reopen to foreign visitors on Monday, Mr Adulwitch hopes customers will line up for his father’s noodle soup again, to help ease the pains of the loss.
Bangkok street vendors were already under stress before the pandemic, having faced evictions and bans on the city’s efforts to ‘clean up’ sidewalks in recent years, while more upscale and trendy restaurants have popped up everywhere.
Serve dishes from yentafo pork leg pink noodle soup simmered over rice, these street cooks – mostly first- or second-generation Chinese immigrants – who could support families on the basis of one dish, were already a breed dying. The Covid has only accelerated its disappearance.
“The immediate consequences of this are less choice for the consumer,” said Chawadee Nualkhair, author of Two Thai Street Food Guides.
“And a further erosion of one of the few truly democratic places that remain in society, where anyone, regardless of social status, could line up for a bowl of noodles or a plate of curry rice. “
Recipes and souvenirs
While Chanchai’s children were quick to take back her stall, Ladda Saetang’s children first debated the abandonment of the family’s duck stew stand after her death in May.
Ladda, a 66-year-old woman with a kind smile known as “Grandma Si”, ran a booth just 650 meters from Chanchai’s.
Eventually, her daughter Sarisa decided to learn all about duck stew to honor her mother’s memory.
“I don’t want the recipe to go away,” Ms. Sarisa, 39, said. “It was his whole life.”
“I’ll be happy if customers say our ducks still taste like my mom,” Ms. Sarisa said. “Some people tell me not to stop because they can’t find food like this anywhere else.” (continued below)
Ladda Saetang’s daughter Sarisa Saetang, 39, looks on during an interview at her late mother’s duck stew store in Bangkok’s Chinatown on October 4 (Reuters photo)
Mr. Adulwitch is also determined that his father will live up to the famous rolled rice noodles.
“This booth was what my dad loved the most, and I love it the most. I have to keep it no matter what,” he said.
Janya Saetang, 55, a sister of Ladda Saetang who died aged 66 of coronavirus disease in May, works next to casseroles of cooked ducks at her late sister’s food stall in Bangkok’s Chinatown on October 4 of this year. (Reuters photo)