100 Years of Honoring Women

A hilltribe woman named Ya totes a basket of meat along a dirt road through rural northeastern Cambodia. Today marks a century since International Women’s Day began. The day has roots in labor disputes amid global industrialization, and the fights for women’s rights to work, vote, hold office and pursue dreams without discrimination. How far […]

Food Photography: Notes from the Kitchen Studio

A number of readers have commented on the photography here, sometimes with questions about lighting and technique. So we have today a guest post by the photographer himself, my dear husband, Jerry Redfern. As some of you might know, Jerry is a photojournalist with nearly 20 years of experience in an evolving profession—from newsroom darkrooms […]

Season of Thanks & Giving

Shu feeds her daughter, Ngoc Chau, at a dinner with her Hmong co-workers and trainees in Sapa, northern Vietnam. I’m breaking all the rules this week. It’s Thanksgiving, this is a food blog, and I’m not posting a single holiday recipe. Gasp! I know. But the truth is, I’m thinking more about life and less […]

Are We There Yet?

An Indian man transports water in the wintertime fog of an early morning in West Bengal. Are we even close? Last week, world leaders gathered in New York to discuss progress made—or not—toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals aimed at alleviating world hunger, poverty and disease. On the upside: we have a new $40 billion […]

Hemp Milk

It’s not what you think. Well—it is but it isn’t. That is indeed a pretty white glass of milk surrounded by the lovely green leaves of cannabis sativa. Marijuana milk. Pot juice. Call it what you will, but it won’t make you high. Though hemp milk is made from the pulverized seeds of the same […]

Woman With Meat (And Other Notes From the Road)

Ya carries her basket of beef along the road between Ban Lung and Ou Chum in Cambodia’s Ratanakkiri province. As some of you know, I’m at work finishing a collection of travel essays to be published next year. In the past few months, I’ve wandered aimlessly (and pointedly) for hours through old notebooks and files […]

This Garden Is the Bomb

A villager named Haum waters her onions, growing in an American cluster bomb casing in Kunpho, Laos. Laotians everywhere have turned war scrap into useful tools. The large metal casings from cluster munitions can sell for upwards of $40—a near fortune to many rural villagers. But some gardeners prefer to keep the casings, turning them […]

Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner

A while back, I posted my account of eating for nine days in the northern Lao village of Sophoon. That was an example of what comes to the dinner table when the hosts know they have guests to feed. A few days ago, we trekked to the Hmong village of Ban Pakeo, several hours on […]

A Rural Lao Food Diary

Breakfast, Day 5 Last month, we spent nine days in the field with Jim Harris’s team in rural Phongsali province. We camped at the local dispensary and showered with cold river water, which was piped uphill to the village. The team hired two young women to cook, clean and launder. Our meals were served communally, […]

Honoring the Women Who Feed Us

Sokheng is 16. She grew up in Prey Veng province but left home to work in a bread factory, cooking meals for 20 or 30 sweaty, hungry young men who make the little baguettes sold everywhere on Phnom Penh’s streets. She tends the charcoal fires in a dark nook beside the blazing ovens that inspire […]