In the Larson household, Sunday night is usually reserved for a little bit of culture.

Whether it’s pub choir or a some local oriental cuisine, the family clears the schedule and gets everyone together. Last night it was Thai.

Kerry Larson (60) appears to be getting a bit more experimental with age. Once upon a time, his idea of ethnic food was a spag bol, or a butter chicken – but nowadays he’s all about the pad kee mao and spring rolls.

After a delightful evening drinking pure blondes and medium-chilli noodles at Betoota’s iconic ‘Thai One On’ – Kerry and his wife Alison make their way to the front desk to pay the bill. But only after talking to the restaurant matriarch for 45 minutes about socio-global politics in southern Asia.

“Jeez wouldn’t wanna be in Hong Kong right now!” says Kerry.

“Oh tell me about it!” says Alison, while their adult kids awkwardly loiter far enough away to not have to chip in for dinner.

The owner of the restaurant, Barbara, a third-generation purveyor of the finest rural Thai food in Outback Queensland, knows as much about what’s happening in Hong Kong as she knows about her son’s cryptocurrency investments. But still, she entertains this cultural mix-up.

“Oh yeah!” says Barbara.

“I saw that on the news”

Both Kerry and Alison suspect that Barbara is being polite by avoiding a political conversation her Asian homeland, so they make it clear that they are open to any opinions on the matter.

“What are your thoughts on all of that?” asks Kerry.

“Do you agree with the protestors”

Barbara sighs as she recalls a conversation she had earlier tonight with a bunch of miners about the Bali ash cloud.

Kerry perseveres.

“Do you have any family that are involved?”

In Kerry’s defence, this particular family diner has always pitched itself as an ‘Asian Restaurant’ in order to encourage a wider customer base – which is why he thinks the Barbara is the person to explain to him the civil unrest in Hong Kong regarding a Beijing led extradition arrangement with China.

Barbara decides to lean into these suburban racial gaffes and treat her customers to a fictional universe where she is in fact a Hong Kong native, instead of a Thai-Australian woman born in Toowoomba in the 1970s – in an effort to maximise Kerry and Alison’s oriental dining experience.

“Oh yes!” she says.

“My nephew is one of the protestors that was flogging the cops in the airport.”

Kerry chuckles.

“Is that right?! haha”

“Good on him”


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