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Culinary Dream Team

Texas authors headline the book fest Cooking Tent

By Mick Vann, Fri., Oct. 26, 2012

Burma: Rivers of Flavor

by Naomi Duguid Artisan, 384 pp., $35

Naomi Duguid is a traveler, world-class cook, and award-winning writer and photographer who has co-authored (with Jeffrey Alford) six of the best international cookbooks of the past decade. Based in Toronto and Chiang Mai, she has been traveling to Burma since 1980, and now writes solo. With Burma: Rivers of Flavor, she brings to the West the first detailed account of the dishes, rich flavors, and vibrant people and culture of Burma. Bordered and culinarily influenced by Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand, the food is unique and not exactly like any of the neighbors; Burma adopts and transforms. It is a cuisine that uses simple ingredients to create exciting, dynamic, and complex flavor combinations. Duguid shares 125 recipes, covering all categories of the Burmese table, plus a section on the history of Burma, a great glossary, and a section on travel tips to this ancient and mysterious country that has recently opened up to the outside world after a half century of political and militarily imposed seclusion.

The recipes are written in a straightforward, easily followed fashion, and most of the ingredients should be locally available (or over the Web, if not). Duguid describes salads as a good starting point – balanced and vibrant in taste and simple to prepare – Chinese kale salad with pork cracklings and fermented tea leaf salad being two faves. Main courses include a mouthwatering noodle dish made with pea shoots and pork; a sweet, tart, and unctuous pork belly stew; a minced catfish and herb sauté; and several versions of mohinga: fish broth cooked with galangal over rice noodles with tamarind, red chile paste, and toasted chickpea flour. This is food that everyone will appreciate; it's not the least bit fussy. With this book, Duguid brings the culture, people, cooking techniques, and food of Burma into sharp, spectacular focus; she's worked her magic again.

Naomi Duguid appears in the Cooking Tent from 1-2pm on Saturday, and at the Central Market Cooking School on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 5pm.

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