A Look at Land Rights on World Food Day

Danu tribal family farmers heading to their fields in Shan State, Myanmar It’s World Food Day, an annual celebration marking the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization, which was founded  in 1945. This year, the day honors family farmers with the theme of “feeding the world, caring for the earth.” The United Nations named […]

On Gardens Near & Far. And Summer Squash Soup.

A Danu girl sorts through her family’s home-grown tomatoes in Shan State, Myanmar. Hello there. It’s been a while. I apologize for my absence from this space—not that I’ve forgotten it, or you. It’s been on my mind a lot in the last many weeks. But you know how life takes us in multiple directions […]

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 […]

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 […]

Recipes from the Homelands

Woman with greens, Shan State, Myanmar We’ve been away, exploring the high deserts and pine forests of this fascinating state. Camping on lava beds, cycling past blackberries on quiet highways, hiking on canyon slopes filled with ocotillo…. Good trip! Now we’re back in the office on Labor Day. I wanted to direct you toward a […]

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 […]

Those Beans I Mentioned….

Pa-O women harvest rice in Shan State, Myanmar The beans we ate with burgers on the 4th of July? Slow-cooked ginger beans. Pintos and Anasazis are what I used, though most any reddish/brownish sort of bean will do. Take your pick, your options are many. The recipe came from Shan State. We’d eaten them years […]

Green Day

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I give you something green: Shan mustard. We found these little bags at a roving hilltribe market near Kengtung, in Shan State. It’s a simple recipe, really — raw mustard leaves pounded with water, mixed with onion, chile, salt and sesame powder. So simple, I shall try to make […]

This Day of Change

A teenager stirs a pot of curry in the kitchen of a teashop in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Jan. 20, 2009. There are about 40 boys working in this teashop, all from the same rural village in Shan State. They make from $15 – $25 USD per month, working seven days a week to send the […]

Burmese Guacamole

Avocado vendor, Mandalay “Karen, in your country, how do you eat avocados?” my newfound friend, Soe, asked me one day in Mandalay. I told him about guacamole with plenty of lime, chile, cilantro and salt. He laughed. “Here, we eat with sugar and condensed milk.” His comment brought back memories—fresh avocado slices sprinkled with sugar, […]