The Papaya Thief, aka Brendan Basham, is a writer and chef living in Portland, OR, among other, more talented chefs and writers. He was born in Alaska and raised in northern Arizona. He’s a recovering restauranteur. After nearly ten years as chef and co-owner of Tapas Isleña and then La Copa Llena, two award-winning restaurants in Rincón, Puerto Rico, Brendan moved back to the states for grad school. He’s a graduate of The Evergreen State College, and is currently enrolled in the creative writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Why Papaya Thief
I had a green papaya salad on my menu, and I was stealing green papayas right off the trees in our neighborhood. I snuck into stranger’s yards, bloodied by barbed wire fences, chased by wild dogs, yelled at by old blind men, all for a salad. The milk from a broken papaya stem stings like battery acid. Then when I wiped the sweat off my brow, my face burned. A rinse in water only made it worse.
But at 5pm, if you ordered the papaya salad at the restaurant, you knew where it came from, you knew that it was fresh, and that made me happy.