Up in Smoke

New Mexico sky, Arizona smoke. We’re choking here. As Arizona next door burns in one of the fiercest fires in state history, we’re smothered in smoke plumes visible from space. A white film dusts the air. It’s as though we’re living in the folds of a lacy veil. We wake to kitchen counters sprinkled in […]

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 […]

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 […]

Old Coffins, Hot Noodles

Remember, around New Year’s, I mentioned an archaeological mission to see ancient log coffins in northern Thailand? Quite a trip, that was. The article is out in this month’s Archaeology. And while the story covers the history and scientific significance of this rocky terrain up near the Burmese border, it doesn’t say much of the […]

Chile, Es Natural

It’s Saturday, my first day in Costa Rica. My niece takes us on a quiet little tour of Miramar, the small town she has called home for two months. We visit the ATM. It gives us a message: “You took too much time taking your money so the bank will keep it.” It’s just a […]

Free Range

Chickens, random temple wall, Chiang Mai, Thailand Here in New Mexico, we live in a village where people own goats instead of lawnmowers, and chickens rise with the finches each morning. We’re considered residential/agricultural. But in much of America, cities are struggling to decide what to do about chickens—chickens in backyard coops, roosters rousing the […]

Great New Chiang Mai Restaurant

Meet Grandma Lek (and yes, she is small). She’s the hands and heart behind the food at a fantastic new little Chiang Mai spot called, appropriately, Grandma’s Thai Recipes. There she is above, making one of her specialties, mee krob. Grandma has long cooked for a popular restaurant on one of Chiang Mai’s outer ring […]

Thai Curry for the Weather

I’m a little behind in mentioning this, but we were still in Myanmar when this posted. Remember the Prem Organic Cooking Academy and Farm? I’m impressed with the efforts of this place near Chiang Mai, where kids from all over Asia get down-and-dirty hands-on lessons in traditional Thai kitchen techniques. The academy operates under the […]

Beyond the Tachileik Gate

The vast majority of travelers who cross from Mae Sai to Tachileik see little of the Myanmar side beyond the big market selling cheap music and movies (great deals) and pretty much anything else a person could possibly want from China. Indeed, most Westerners get their stamp on the Thai side, another on the Burmese […]

The Rose Roaster

This is Mr. Sua Yee, a Hmong man in the northern Thailand village of Ban Rai, near Pang Mapha. And this is his clever contraption for drying rose petals, which are sent to Chiang Mai, packaged and sold across Thailand as floral tea. Two fans lie on their sides at the bottom of the sealed […]