Sick Chicken

The other day, in a tiny Lave tribal village, we asked whether the people knew about bird flu. “Oh yes,” a woman who runs the village restaurant told us. “All of our chickens died last month. It happens every year.” “Really?!?” we asked. “What have you done with the dead birds?” “We ate them.” —–…Continue readingSick Chicken

ASK ME! market travel

My husband and I are planning some Southeast Asian travel revolving around food markets. Wonder if you have any favorite food markets, defined any way you like — size, what’s on offer, outgoing vendors, unusual/interesting produce, setting, etc. — Robyn, Kuala Lumpur Thanks for the question, Robyn. Here are some of my favorites. I’d be…Continue readingASK ME! market travel

Tea on the Table

It’s a simple thing, but I appreciate it. In many Asian countries, local restaurants provide a pitcher or pot of tea for every table. In the cold north of China, Tibet and Vietnam, hot little teacups warm the fingers on frigid, foggy mornings. Closer to the equator in Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the tea…Continue readingTea on the Table

Ginger for the Road

We met a Swedish traveler on the road from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville. She carried a hunk of ginger in her purse, and mid-way through the mountainous drive she pulled out a knife and offered us little slices of the pungent root. What a fantastic idea! I’ve taken her lead and carried my own ginger…Continue readingGinger for the Road

Sabai Dee Pii Mai Lao!

Happy New Year from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. We have crossed through Cambodia’s northern forests (which are sadly being torched and cleared) into Lao, where the Mekong spreads wide around little spits of land. They call this place the “4,000 Islands.” We arrive at Khong Island on Lao New Year’s Eve. All across this…Continue readingSabai Dee Pii Mai Lao!

The Salt We Eat

Roeut is precisely my age, and I am precisely hers. It is only fate or luck or chance that I was born as I, and she born as she, and not the other way around. Had I been born as Roeut, I would have three kids — 14, 8 (pictured above) and 5 — and…Continue readingThe Salt We Eat

Of Sushi, Insurgents and Cowboys

The night we spend in Bangkok, just before heading to Cambodia, our good friend Masaru (another photojournalist) invites us for sushi. His wife, Youme, has already gone to Aceh and Masaru is in Bangkok alone. He wants to cook. We arrive at his apartment and find a large white paper taped to the floor. On…Continue readingOf Sushi, Insurgents and Cowboys

ASK ME! frying oil

• Is peanut oil the best oil to use for stir fry? Peanut oil is good for wok cooking and stir-frying, but it actually isn’t used in traditional Thai food and many other Southeast Asian cuisines. Palm oil, coconut oil, pork fat and soy oil (increasingly so, because it’s healthier) are all used for frying…Continue readingASK ME! frying oil

ASK ME! street food safety

• I traveled to Southeast Asia for the first time, and was tempted to buy food from the ubiquitous streetside vendors, but didn’t know if it would be safe. How safe is the noodle soup and satay at the side of the road? – Jenny, Morgan Hill, CA Well, here in Thailand we can tell…Continue readingASK ME! street food safety