Cold gold

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Here, a vendor of the Myanmar street delicacy Shwe Yin Aye (“gold heart/chest cold” or, as my colleague poetically phrases it, “Golden things that cool your heart”) exhibits her expertise. The ingredients of this street delicacy are miniscule tapioca pearls, coconut-flavored sticky rice, green spaghetti-like (in texture and appearance, though thankfully not in flavor) strands of jelly, thin slices of coconut-flavored jelly, and a slice of fluffy, sweet white bread, all swimming together in a bath of sweet coconut milk – the weapon of choice for Yangonites young and old against the increasingly unbearable hot season humidity.
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Critical to the magic of Shwe Yin Aye is that it is kept cool, which has lead to this vendor to employ a refrigeration system that functions as a compelling goods-display system illustrating their attention to quality to potential customers in this major Yangon market. The micro-glacier suspended in the bed of green jelly strands does triple duty in this space-constrained environment: it simultaneously refrigerates the first of my three orders (hungry colleagues – honest!), chills the bed of green jelly strands it is resting upon, and insures that there is always near-freezing water being generated in order to keep flies from being able to get at the submerged green jelly.
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Just as carefully planned as the improvised refrigeration unit was the carrying mechanism for the completed orders. Enough coconut milk to adequately douse all three orders (and then some) in one tightly sealed bag, all other aforementioned components pre-mixed and divided into one bag per order, and everything dropped into a larger plastic bag and placed under ice. All designed to obey fundamental laws of the universe: heat rises, cold sinks, and Shwe Yin Aye must be kept as chilly as possible.

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