The Honorable Phia Sing

In the early 20th century, Chaleunsilp Phia Sing was the royal chef at the Luang Prabang Palace. He died in 1967 at the end of a protracted illness. In his last months, he recorded the history and legacy of Lao cuisine, writing across the grids of French notebook pages. His notes passed into the hands…Continue readingThe Honorable Phia Sing

Hearing the Food

Close your eyes. Listen to the beat. Hear the chopping, the pounding, the scraping of knives. Listen to coins jingling in the hand, to hawkers calling out orders and customers gabbing over cups of tea. Hear the clanking of tin cups as the table is cleared. Hear the click of high heels on tile floors.…Continue readingHearing the Food

King of the Kitchen

The framed sepia-toned photo on the right is a well-known sight in Thailand. It depicts a sarong-clad Chulalongkorn bent over a wok. It’s said the cherished King (a.k.a. King Rama V, 1868-1910) loved a good picnic and enjoyed cooking for friends. It’s also said he would travel incognito, mixing with the locals without their knowledge,…Continue readingKing of the Kitchen

The Old Man’s Grapes

This is a house of mystery. Each day of repairs and refurbishment reveals a new enigma (Why the hole, behind the kitchen counters, stuffed with cloth? Why the backyard pit big enough to swallow a car? Why the bordello lamp and dirty bedpans in the crawl space beneath the house?) The man who sold us…Continue readingThe Old Man’s Grapes

A Cookbook for the Ages

Where, where, where do the months go? Seems like just a few weeks ago we had our 4th of July hotdogs in Borneo, and now the 4th of July is upon us again. You know all the sayings about the speed of time as we age—and I am most assuredly growing older—so here we are…Continue readingA Cookbook for the Ages

Southeast, Southwest

Memorial Day signals the start of summer, and no holiday weekend is complete without a barbecue. So barbecue we did, combining the tastes of east and west, from the high deserts of the American Southwest to the damp tropics of Southeast Asia. Eight thousand miles spread between these regions, and yet the flavors mingle like…Continue readingSoutheast, Southwest