Meal 117: Myanmar

Burmese food is intense. Funky, fiery, crunchy, soupy, tangy, herby…a full meal is a real workout for your palate. It bears some resemblance to Thai food, but with more crispy bits, more turmeric, and a lot more fermentation. It’s also a good amount of work to prepare! A birthday gift of an outdoor street-vendor-style wok was extremely well timed, as there were several smelly, splattery things to be fried up. I’m never going to claim my cooking is authentic, but […]

Meal 103: Malaysia

It turns out there’s a subtle but important distinction between “Malaysian” and “Malay.” The latter refers to an ethnic group and their language; the former is the name of a country composed of many ethnicities of whom the Malay are but the largest. There are large populations of both Chinese and South Asian origin, as well as indigenous groups. And naturally, all of them, plus the English and Dutch colonizers, have sprinkled their spices and poured their sauces into an […]

Meal 91: Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is the very definition of landlocked. It’s farther than any other in the world from the sea, its rivers end in lakes rather than flowing toward the ocean. The vast majority of the country is situated over 5,000 feet, with massive mountain ranges covering most of its modest expanse. Yet the country hardly isolated: this land played host to part of the Silk Road, and several nomadic groups have called the area home. As with so many other countries, a land named for one […]

Meal 43: DPR Korea

Nothing about making a North Korean meal is easy. First of all, it’s even hard to find someone from North Korea to talk to: estimates say that only 14,000 people have managed to escape the totalitarian state in the 59 years since the end of the Korean War, and there’s virtually zero Internet access within the country. Secondly, except for a particular noodle dish, most (South) Koreans aren’t really aware of which of the foods they eat originated across the DMZ. […]

Meal 29: Cambodia

Having grown up in the Bay Area, I had more than my fair share of many southeast Asian cuisines, including Thai, Vietnamese, even Burmese. But I’d never really encountered Cambodian until this meal. The core ingredients are pretty similar to those of its neighbors, especially the triptych of galangal, kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass. Yet as the Wikipedia page observes, the country is full of wetlands and floodplains, a geography which is reflected in a culinary style where solid and […]