Thai food, in a shack, up a mountain, in a thunderstorm

A part of a two-week road trip around the USA we found ourselves at the top of a mountain in the middle of Tennessee. After chatting, ice tea, cookies and a hike we decided we needed some food.

As unassuming Brits we didn’t know the heavy heat and thick air meant a storm was rolling in, maybe we should’ve expected it. Being in the middle of nowhere and miles from any town we asked the owner, Vicki, where we could go to eat.

She told us of a wonderful Thai restaurant only a few miles away. Apparently it was a big concrete building on the side of the road. As we left the sky darkened and after ten minutes of driving with no Thai restaurant in sight we were planning on giving up.

Lightning was now flashing in the sky and the rain was coming down very hard. Another ten minutes of driving and the rain was beginning to clear but the darkness remained. Eventually I spotted a little corrugated metal shack that had ‘Thai’ written on the side. That couldn’t be the place, could it?

We pulled up and hesitated for a bit, worried we were in the wrong place. Eventually we went in. It was completely dark inside. The main area was very small and had three or four plastic tables set up in the middle. There was a fridge in one corner and behind a counter a small Thai lady was cooking by candlelight over a gas stove.

They were still serving food so we ordered and sat down. We watched the woman cook and drank lemonade, dishes rolled out for the four other people in the restaurant – if you can call it that – soon it came to our turn. I was presented with spicy noodles and my boyfriend has a feast of chicken curry, rice and spring rolls.

It was, without a doubt, one of the best meals I have ever eaten; full of flavour and spice with big chunky prawns and slippery noodles. It was one of the weirdest places I’ve ever eaten in though; the only light came from the candle, gas burner and a singular window. The whole place shook with the force of the wind but everyone was chatting, the atmosphere was so friendly and intimate.

A wonderful place and even though it was a bit odd it was one of the best experiences of the whole trip.

J Hawk

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