The fridge’s brokeness has got me more than slightly miffed. Apart from the car, and the baby, that fridge is the most expensive thing we own, and in all its shining stainless steel glory is testament to how far we’ve come. In fridge terms it is a victory monument, and the fact that it has given up the ghost after one short season, and now sits brooding in all its gleaming expensiveness in the bar is highly depressing.
On our opening day eighteen months ago, we had no refrigeration of any kind at all. We had blagged a cheap industrial sized fridge off a friend for a knockdown price and when on opening day we hefted it off the truck we discovered two things. One, it didn’t fit in the kitchen door, and two it didn’t work.
Cue frantic calls to fridge man who had to be enticed with some particularly fine expletives to make the treacherous journey to the back of beyond to fix it. Cue large scale conversations about knocking down of walls, ripping out of doors etc (which are all cheaper options than buying a new fridge in this topsy turvy country we call home).
To cut a long story short, we opened the restaurant by the skin of our teeth with large plastic ice boxes borrowed from friends stashed everywhere desperately chilling beer. When push came to shove we even converted cardboard boxes into coolers by filling them first with bin bags and then with ice – a handy American portable cooler trick, gleaned from knowledge of the great american sport of tailgaiting (getting pissed sitting on the tailgate of your truck). To be honest it was not the highly polished and professional look that we had been aiming for, but as I have had thrashed into me over the last two years: what the hell is?
Once the behemouth of a fridge was fixed we were able to use it for the highly creative tasks of storing food and beer. Unfortunately due to the general occurrence of Thai time, and lack of good ideas about how to achieve it, it remained outside the kitchen for another six months.
This was most difficult on Shrimp’s poor younger sister Sao, who, when an order was placed had to slip slide across the treacherous ice rink of a wet kitchen floor, charge outside the kitchen, stand on a rubber pad, grab the handles with cloths (again to avoid electrocution, this fridge had issues too) and remove the food.
Unfortunately due to the complete lack of a bar fridge she also had to repeat this process anytime anyone placed a beer order, and at parties, poor valiant Sao would remain at the ordering hatch until dawn, just waiting to begin her beer charge should anyone of the remaining dribbling drunkards fancy a refreshment.
After about six months, with the aid of six men, a sledge hammer, some corrugated metal, a pulley, and after removing all the doors and screws, and with a hefty dollop of Thai ingenuity we did manage to get the beast into the kitchen. Where it has sat ever since, having become the bane of my life in its finickityness: constantly freezing stuff you’d never want to freeze, like salad, and refusing to freeze stuff you’d always want frozen like meat. I probably shouldn’t slag it off or it will die on me too, and even in all its drippy/icey, energy inefficientness, like many things in my life, I don’t know what I’d do without it.
When our generous benefactors visited us to survey the riskiness of their investment they spotted the bar fridge issue as the crux of the matter and kindly relieved me of my misery by lending us the cash to buy one. This was one of the greatest reliefs of my life, releasing me as it did from endless time spent daydreaming and fantasizing about refrigeration.
But as always the story did not end there, we went over to Samui to buy our second baby, and spent agonizing hours choosing the over priced new addition to our family, in the end we settled on a model that was ever so slightly too large, and a bit more expensive but had vastly more space and a hardcore freezer (yippee).
Once the long arduous process of hefting the monster onto boats and trucks and finessing it in the back of a pick up over the diabolical mountainous jungle track we discovered two things, one it was two long, and two it was too tall and you couldn’t remove the legs as the salesperson had promised.
Cue long discussions involving most of the village about smashing down countertops, removing structural pillars and demolishing reinforced concrete to get the bugger into place. Which we finally did, putting an end to our refrigeration nightmare and making us feel like shiny, stainless steel professionals. Until it decided to pack it in that is.