Scenes from Asia

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The Wonder Spice: A Review of Turmeric, a Cookbook by Colleen Taylor Sen and Helen Saberi

Several years ago, I set up an informal experiment with an observation of two: in my tiny two-person household, I cooked and ate only Indian food for one month, relying heavily on cookbooks by Julie Sahni and Madhur Jaffrey. I felt terrific, with more energy and alertness than I knew what to do with. Of…

Julie Sahni -Talk About Great Indian Food!

Like most of you (I hope), I have been cooking from Julie Sahni's cookbooks for years.  I learned to feel utterly confident that Ms. Sahni's recipes really work and come close to what people from India know about good food. One weekend my husband's office held a pot-luck at a colleague's house. Feeling assured that…

Journeys versus Destinations: Homesick for My Food

I’d never experienced it before. Amoebas, yes. Worms, yes. Dengue, yes.  Broken bones, yes. Malaria dreams, yes. But not cravings for thick juicy hamburgers or plump buttermilk pancakes swimming in melted butter and golden maple syrup or crispy fried chicken with cream gravy. In spite of all the years of traveling and living among cultures…

To India, via Paris’s Le Passage Brady

In spite of French presence in India for a couple of centuries, trying to find Indian curry in France tends to be a bit of a chore. The first Indian restaurant didn't open in Paris until 1975. Those in the know (mostly British expatriates pining for curry in London) lament the lack of good Indian food,…

The Things They Carried*: Brief Glimpses of French Food in Vietnam

In the film, "Indochine," you sense the rampant orientalism that made Edward Said one of the most quoted scholars on the subject of colonialism and the creation of the "Other." The heat, the fans, the sweat, the passions, the exoticism and erotocism, all these visual cues recreate the mental picture many of us have regarding…

Cooking Fish — Let Us Count the World’s Ways: Asia 1

In Asia, cooking fish presents no problem to thousands of ingenious cooks. The abundance of fish and the surfeit of ingredients ensures that fish cookery scales heights far beyond scorched fish fingers, dried-out fillets, and mushy tuna-noodle casserole.

The Chinese in the West: How Railroad Coolies Ate

Until our own times, the nineteenth century saw some of the most profound changes in social structure and population movements in the history of the world. How people fed themselves also changed as people migrated from continent to continent. Boarding houses became extremely common and popular beginning in the nineteenth, thanks to this movement of…

Fish Stomachs?????

Fish Stomachs???? You might believe that fishcakes, along with fritters and croquettes, began as members of the thrifty Leftovers family. But in fact, early medieval English cooks made fishcakes from fish stomachs, which many might consider carrying thrift just a little too far. There is actually a fishcake recipe, on page 170 of Madeleine Pelner…

Chinese New Year: What are You?

A blogging friend of mine, Foodvox,  posted a short and pithy comment about Chinese New Year this morning on her blog and stated that her Chinese Zodiac sign is that of Monkey. As for me, I am a Metal Tiger, according to the Chinese Zodiac. [Update: 2010 is the year of the Metal Tiger!] She…

LEAFING OUT: Cooking with Asian Leaves

A new (to me, anyway) cookbook always heralds further culinary adventures for armchair explorers. In Cooking with Asian Leaves, authors Devagi Sanmugam and Christopher Tan---both residents of Singapore---ladle out detailed information about 26 different leaves, many that rarely make it into mainstream American kitchens. Including scientific names, appearance, flavor, and culinary and medicinal uses, this…