Book Dates! And an Excerpt

A fisherman on the far eastern edge of East Timor. Read about his community in This Way More Better. Dates are very important. Every writer knows this. Every writer I know waits and worries, frets and fusses in a mixed-bag roller-coaster of celebrated anticipation of THE DATE on which her book is published. We want […]

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 […]

Food Miles, Southeast Asian Style

Buses stop at the Nam Ou River in Muang Khua, Laos. Tiny town it is, but it sits on a major trade route linking Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. I’ve been thinking a lot about the journeys my dinners endure. The more I read, the more I learn, the more trouble I have shaking the numbers: […]

Food for Thought

Rosi digs tomato sauce. (Albuquerque, New Mexico) Just a few random shots for your Friday pleasure. Have a great weekend! Would you like ketchup with that? (Mae Salong, Thailand) Cat with frying rice cakes. (Luang Prabang morning market, Laos.)

Clearing the Eyes in Thailand

Thanks to everyone who has sent good vibes and healthy wishes this way. If all goes as planned, in a few hours we’ll be on a long-haul plane, leaving Thailand to its messy future. No one predicts an easy recovery from yesterday’s bloodshed and the weeks of protests leading up to it. In fact, I […]

This Is How It Is in Bangkok

This is how it is. You land in Bangkok one afternoon when your head and stomach think it’s midnight the night before, and your internal thermometer goes nutso, rising precipitously, quickly, because it’s accustomed to frigid climes. Your ankles swell. Your clothes grow itchy, your hands and feet sweaty, your skin glistened from a damp […]

Remembering the Tsunami: Part I

Khao Lak, Thailand, January 2005 Exactly five years ago, on the morning after Christmas, an earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra. With a magnitude surpassing 9.1, it was one of the mightiest quakes on record. It spurred a series of tsunamis that devastated parts of Asia and Africa, and it killed at least 230,000 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Right to Be a Child

Two Indian boys, the children of tea plantation workers in Darjeeling, gather plant trimmings they will use to heat their homes. During winter months, the tea plants are dormant, but plantation workers trim the dead branches for fuel. This week marks 20 years since the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the […]