Special Dispatch: Breakfast in Yangon
Most shop-bought food in Myanmar is consumed sitting on tiny plastic stools of the sort you might find in a kindergarten. They come with both backs and no-backs, and in numerous colours though sun-bleached red and blue are favourites, usually with matching tiny tables. I have seen many of these stools stapled back together where a particularly heavy customer has flattened one. Such fixing is proudly described as doing it ‘Bamar-lo’, the Burmese way of getting around even the most arduous junta-imposed restrictions. These stools are not limited to teashops and rice shops, they can also be handily brought out to seat passengers sitting in the aisle of a bus. Myanmar's people may be small and stunted through years of malnutrition but their knees almost reach their ears when they sit on them too. They are quite small.
Not necessarily the most comfortable position in which to digest breakfast.
But dear reader, the breakfasts are worth it even if you have to eat them folded up. The greatest of all breakfast food in Yangon (and many other parts of the country) is mohinga. Your mohinga server unthreads a handful of fresh noodles from the clump of noodles in the display case, dumps them in a bowl, and spoons over them a grey-brown coloured fish broth out of a big tin tureen. It’s optional to add a boiled duck egg, or broken up bits of fried corn wafer, or fried gourd, or a few other fried items. This dish [there's a recipe at meemalee.com] is then brought to your plastic table where you can add a squeeze of lime, a pinch of fresh coriander from a little tin bowl, a spoonful of dried chilli.
Tin Tin Aye mohinga shop on the roadside in Yankin Township (and 4 other locations in Yangon) produces the richest, fishiest broth (if you prefer it thinner, you are better off at Myaung Mya Daw Cho). Tin Tin Aye’s broth is made in a factory somewhere in Okkalapa, an old kingdom of Myanmar on the outskirts of Yangon. Apparently it tastes so good because of the special salt that they bring from the seaside resort of Ngapali, but it could also be the MSG, which adds a special zing to most breakfast options in the Golden Land.