For the next week, I’ll be working as a classroom editor for the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation. IMMF is a journalism training group, established by photojournalist Tim Page in honor of journalists killed while covering the wars in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Every year, the group offers a month-long journalism course based on a particular topic (this year’s is the Mekong), and participants come from around the region. Each journalist reports and writes a story based on the month’s interviews and field trips, and by the end of the class, we’ll have a hefty edition of the IMMF Times, showcasing their work.
The editing process began Friday as reporters turned in their first drafts. Through these stories and conversations with participants, I already have gleaned an eclectic but amazing array of facts, many of which at least vaguely relate to food. So far I’ve learned:
â€¢ Gai, a popular Mekong River seaweed, grows up to 12 inches a night.
â€¢ During a recent bird flu outbreak in Burma, chicken meat ended up in the markets at half price. The rich (rich as rich is in Burma) wouldn’t eat it, but the poor indulged. They usually cannot afford the luxury of chicken.
â€¢ One of the Burmese participants is afraid to visit any of the Burmese restaurants in town; she’s been warned not to talk with Burmese living in Chiang Mai. They might have connections to the government, and she would face problems upon her return — just for talking to them.
â€¢ The Mekong River supports 1,200 species of fish.
â€¢ A 440-pound Giant Mekong Catfish could sell for about $1,330.