Hope in a Coffee Mug

It’s my favorite mug every morning (thanks, Aye!), but especially during this historic week. It gets me going. It starts the day with a dose of hope.Continue readingHope in a Coffee Mug

Bringing the Burmese to Montana

Singing, strumming and dancing at the Burmese farewell party. It’s over, and now I can talk. Perhaps you wondered where I went for the past few weeks. Perhaps I seemed a little aloof. I was—with good reason. Something amazing happened here in Missoula, Montana. Something historic. And we’d planned it for a long, long time.…Continue readingBringing the Burmese to Montana

7 Reasons for the Conscientious Cook to Visit Burma

The junta has eyes over an Immigration office. Burma is gearing up for historic elections on Nov. 7. Few people expect change. Many Burmese people hope foreign visitors will experience their country, then return home to tell the world what they saw. I’ve compiled a list of 7 reasons to visit Burma—especially if you aim…Continue reading7 Reasons for the Conscientious Cook to Visit Burma

Pepper that Cocktail!

We have much to celebrate and even more to ponder this weekend, as many happenings converge. So pull up a chair and pour yourself a glass of this: nimbu pani, an Indian “lime and pepper refresher,” with recipe courtesy of Christine McFadden and her book, appropriately named, Pepper (wonderful book, and I can’t wait to…Continue readingPepper that Cocktail!

Bangkok on Fire

A vendor on Thanon Lad Krabang fries noodles for a hungry crowd less than an hour before curfew So much has happened in the past week—our reunion with Shu, the death of our friend Manophet, the eruption of Bangkok—I can’t process it yet. But here we sit, surrounded by concrete walls in a quiet, air-conditioned…Continue readingBangkok on Fire

Thank You, Readers. Thank You, Saveur

It’s been one of those weeks of heat and fatigue, and a scratchy throat that won’t clear. A week of dusty boots and sweaty shirts and sunburned cheeks, after chatting with farmers in hot, dry fields. A week of crazy traffic, choking exhaust, and a blanket of air with perilously high PM10 levels. But then…Continue readingThank You, Readers. Thank You, Saveur

Generosity, a Secret to the Burmese Kitchen

When AFAR published my laphet thote article, it ran under the headline, “A Burmese Salad that Says Welcome.” I didn’t write the title. It’s what editors inferred from the story. “Welcome” is spot-on, but love, compassion or kindness would have worked just as well. The Burmese possess magnanimous hearts—this I learned from my students. I’m…Continue readingGenerosity, a Secret to the Burmese Kitchen

The Right to Be a Child

Two Indian boys, the children of tea plantation workers in Darjeeling, gather plant trimmings they will use to heat their homes. During winter months, the tea plants are dormant, but plantation workers trim the dead branches for fuel. This week marks 20 years since the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the…Continue readingThe Right to Be a Child

Insects in the Salad

Eretes sticticus larvae, sometimes served with laphet thote Let’s return for a moment to laphet thote. Long before I researched this article, I’d eaten a lot of Burmese pickled tea leaves. The salad has all the salty-spicy-bitter-yumminess I love on a tropical plate. But I didn’t know about the beetles. That is, not until I…Continue readingInsects in the Salad

What’s the Trouble with a Little Smoke?

Roasting chiles for market, Bangkok. A lot, in terms of health. Fire by far constitutes Asia’s most popular cooking method, and with good and practical reason. Smoked foods taste great. Fire is easy and accessible. But the long-term health and environmental effects are vast. A massive “brown cloud” covers much of Asia, and researchers are…Continue readingWhat’s the Trouble with a Little Smoke?