One Little Chile in a Tiffany’s Box

I’m thinking it might be the most humble but exotic item that ever did appear in one of those little blue boxes. This dignified surprise arrived in our Christmas gift package from my sister and brother-in-law. One shriveled red chile. We sniffed it — such a subtle mix of smoke, citrus, berry and heat—and we […]

Massaman Curry for a Holiday Crowd

You know how it is this time of year—lots of obligations to the festive side of life. A few weeks back, we had a crowd of 15 for dinner. Not a huge gathering, but big enough to necessitate extra thought. I finally did it right: I made a vat of curry before guests arrived, allowing […]

A Warm Red Curry for a Cool Autumn Night

At times, I feel a bit like I’m living in a glass house here at Chautauqua. If I keep my blinds open, tourists tromping up and down the street can peer inside and see precisely what I’m doing. On warm days, when I read on the screen porch, I can watch vehicles jockeying for parking […]

The Neighborhood Chile Roaster

At night in Colorado, the temperature drops, the wind picks up, and the air smells fresh, like pine. It’s such a lovely scent—and yet, my nose tells me something is missing. This time of year, right now, everything back at home smells of roasted chile. This is Max. Every New Mexican neighborhood has its chile […]

Growth

A baby Naga chile—the world’s hottest—hangs from a plant in a Wisconsin garden on the edge of Pewaukee Lake. And so the Boulder life begins. The week passed in a gust of activity—I’ve been packing, planning, meeting and “orientating.” Picking classes, touring the library. Setting up my new computer and phone. I’ve discovered a treasure […]

OMG! So Cute. Little Girls with Soup.

Several girls mix individual bowls of noodle soup at the Sam Neua morning market in Laos. Greetings from the American Southwest. Jerry and I are home to a house that looks much the same. The herb garden grows again, the pomegranates bloom. And we fight the remnants of jet lag while leaping back into stateside […]

Now, About that Jaeow:

If you’ve read my previous post — a 9-day diary of Lao village food — you’ll fully understand the importance of chile in every Lao meal. And you’ll recognize that chile takes the form of jaeow, a paste that’s pounded with mortar and pestle. One morning, I follow Huang and Louen, the two cooks, into […]

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, […]

The Long Haul to Phongsali

Dinner in Udomxai: spicy tam maak hung (Lao papaya salad) with padek, and Lao khao soi (noodle soup with pork-tomato-chile sauce and lots of fresh herbs) It took four days to travel overland from Chiang Mai to Sophoon, in the northern Lao province of Phongsali, where we camped in the village dispensary with Jim Harris […]

Happy New Year

Best wishes for a grand new decade! May the new year bring good health, happiness and a life steeped in richness. May you enjoy plenty of fulfilling dinners such as the one pictured above. Lately, we’ve had Hmong food on the brain (and on the tongue), and of course our research involves a plenitude of […]