When Slow Food Isn’t Simple: A Borneo Story

The first time we traveled to Bario, there were no roads in or out. We flew into this remote little outpost in the Kelabit Highlands of Malaysian Borneo. The only other option at that time (2006) was a terribly long trek (weeks) through the mountains over difficult, possibly dangerous terrain. Things change. There is a […]

Watching, Hearing the Rice

A long time ago, during one of my initial stays in Southeast Asia, I first heard a certain saying about farmers throughout the region: some of them plant the rice, others watch it grow, and some simply listen to it grow. It’s meant to be a commentary on stereotypes, ethnic relations and workmanship. I won’t […]

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, […]

Dinner for 1, w/Phone & Grin

So you’re a young Khmer guy in the big town of Siem Reap, and you’re out for dinner—alone. But your honey is on the phone, and your grin gives that fact away. You chat and chat with that grin real wide until the fried rice comes to the table. Then you wield the little black […]

Bring Back the Buffalo

View of the rice fields around Doi Saket, in northern Thailand. In winter, northern Thailand wakes to a cloak of fog. Cool mountain air flushes down the mountains through dry, golden valleys. Straw hats bob through the fields as men, women and children stoop to the earth. It’s rice harvest season, but it’s not as […]

A Taste of Costa Rica: Part II

Every morning begins with coffee, of course, and usually fruit. But the centerpiece of any Costa Rican breakfast is the spotted rooster, better known as gallo pinto. Rice and beans. “Gallo” means rooster, “pinto” means spotted, and the name refers to the dappled appearance of the dish when the white rice mixes with red or […]

The Rosi Recipes #2: Burmese Mutton Balls

I couldn’t resist. As soon as I read Nan San San Aye’s recipe for an aromatic mutton meatball curry, I knew it would be part of the next Rosi meal. Now, let’s get a couple of things straight. In Burma, “mutton balls” might very well mean goat testicle curry (which a friend recently referred to […]

Dry-Season Harvest

Much of Southeast Asia remains brittle and parched through these last weeks of the dry season when the heat builds to oppressive measures. Fields lie empty until the rains begin and new, green life can grow. But in Siem Reap, around the Tonle Sap, the seasons run counter to that schedule. The dry season is […]

Happy Holidays

Lahu villagers from Jabo, in northern Thailand, pound sticky rice in order to make New Year’s cakes for spirit offerings Happy International Women’s Day, to all of you female friends. To the men out there: please treat the women in your life kindly today. And happy Lahu New Year, a week belated. We happened to […]