Meatless Monday and Burma

Jun 2013
Meatless Monday and Southeast Asia…The next time I spin the globe internationally, I’m hoping I end up in Burma.  Imagine how thrilled I was the other day to come across this cookbook, Burma, Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid.

Burma, Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid

I have one of the author’s other cookbooks, Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, and it too is a culinary travelogue filled with beautiful photographs of Southeast Asia.  Burma sits right on the middle of some of the countries we are most familiar with when it comes to Let’s eat ethnic. India, China and Thailand.  All three have had an influence on the multilayered dishes in Burma.  With the recent access to the country opened, hopefully, that will change in the future.  For now we will have to be happy with the wonderful writings of culinary culture that Duguid has provided us with. {or travel to the country yourself!} Lemongrass, rich curries, lime, ginger and the basics of that mysterious fermented soy that i’ve heard so much about-these are the flavors that will make your palate sing.

Leafing through the book, you will find there is something for everyone, and while there are meat dishes, there are also plenty of recipes to fill the Meatless Monday category.  From start to finish, you’ll learn much about the cooking technique of the country, as well as the markets, art and culture of the people.  Stories of travel, religion and family are woven throughout and chapters, and if you’re anything like me, you’re going to come away wanting to book a plane ticket.
I love the way the author early on has given the reader and overview of Burmese food in a Western context.  Headings like Weeknight Supper Combos, For Lovers of Intense Flavor,  For Vegetarians, On a Hot Summer Day ; these were a smart addition to insure the concept doesn’t get lost in translation. The introduction gives a brief history of the rich cultural heritage of the Burmese people, and then the eating begins.  From the basics and stocking your pantry, to a great selection of soups and salads, to rice vegetables and sweet treats, I think you’ll have a hard time trying to decide which you want to cook first.

 Circumstances made it easy for me,  the heat of summer had seriously arrived and someone had left our grill on {not so safe} the other day, so the gas was gone.  Time for a big salad and a sweet treat called Tapioca-Coconut Delight. The mangoes I had on hand were perfectly ripe for this, and added a sweetness to the custard.  The combination of the slightly chewy tapioca on the bottom with the sweet custard on top was delightful.  For a hot evening, it was a perfect finish to a light supper and took about 20 minutes to make.

Burma, Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid

Since I devoured the text of the book and took my armchair travel trip to Burma, now I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the recipes-stay posted for an update.