Select one of the keywords
Burma: Rivers of Flavor    by Naomi Duguid order for
by Naomi Duguid
Order:  USA  Can
Workman, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Here's a beautiful book for anyone interested in South East Asia, Naomi Duguid's Burma: Rivers of Flavor - a combination of travel book and cookbook in a delightful coffee table presentation, filled with striking color photographs.

The author tells us, 'Burma's culinary scene today is rich and multilayered.' She avoids politics in the book but uses the name Burma rather than the official Myanmar, 'because historically the name "Myanma" was used for only a small area, the central valleys where the dominant Bamar population lived.' The volume is filled with full page color photographs that make the reader want to hop on a plane and share these scenes directly.

The meat of the book is, of course the central recipes, but Duguid also introduces us to The Place and the People (the country's history, regions and different ethnic groups). She covers Flavors and Dishes - the basic pantry, spectacular salads, central soups, mildly hot curries, fish and seafood, meat, rice and noodles, sweet treats, cooking tools, and serving suggesions for Burmese food.

In Burma Basics, she addresses pantry staples ('peanut oil, dried red chiles, turmeric powder, dried shrimp, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and tamarind pulp - and long-keeping perishables such as limes, shallots, gralic, and ginger') as well as prepared ingredients to make ahead. The recipes themselves are divided into: Salads; Soups; Mostly Vegetables; Fish and Seafood; Chicken; Beef and Pork; Condiments and Sauces; Mostly Rice; Noodles; and Sweet Treats.

All the salads entice me but I'll have to start with the roasted eggplant and the shan tofu salads. The soups are just as unusual, from fish soup with lemongrass and chiles to kachin rice powder soup with chicken and ginger. Tamarind-pumpkin curry intrigues me as do new potatoes with spiced shallot oil. How about crispy anchovies with chile and ginger or fish cakes and fish balls (made with tilapia, shallots, garlic and ginger) to go with it?

I'm always looking for new chicken recipes and will definitely try minced chicken with galangal and tomato and mandalay noodles with chicken curry. And in sweets, I love fried sesame-seed bananas, so must try the recipe here soon. And although I don't normally use many of the ingredients needed for these recipes, they do seem to be popping up in local grocery stores much more often nowadays.

Travel tidbits for different regions are scattered throughout this lovely book, which ends with a section on Traveling in Burma now that 'the country's politics are more open'; a Glossary of terms and ingredients; and an Annotated Bibliography. if you have any interest in this fascinating country or its cuisine, don't miss this remarkable volume.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews