I find this book, which tracks the food of the Mekong from Yunnan to the Mekong Delta, enthralling, and these authors audacious.
Maybe that's because I'm a timid traveller and I can't imagine overcoming my shyness enough to gather this many recipes from the people I meet along the way. But Naomi and Jeffrey revisit again and again the places they travel. This book is like a palimpsest, an imprint of their lives in motion, made from layers of life lived on the road, years of patient return to the same place, the same cook, the same piece of paper, to ask again, how much coriander did you use? I forgot to ask last year...
I don't cook from it a lot partly because it is so big and beautiful. It is hard to have it propped on the kitchen counter. Stunning photographs and great stories. It can be hard to track down the ingredients in my part of the world. It is a great book to browse. It has recipes for many of my favorite South-east Asian food treats so I am sure that some day when I am in a different phase of my life, I will dig into it more. It's a great inspiration if you want to do regional culinary-themed party. And it has our all-time favorite Duguid and Alford recipe: Perfume River Rice.
This is one of my favorite cookbooks. I love how it has allowed me to produce entirely different kinds of food from what I would be able to cook on my own. More than that, it gives the reader and cook entrance into a different way to organize meals. You can't take a single recipe in isolation; rather, the book circles back on itself. Recipes come with a dozen variations, constantly cross-referencing the condiments, fillings, snacks, salads, and rice dishes available in other chapters for recommendations on how best to serve these dishes. You get a sense of how these foods fit together and how they're meant to be served, layer upon layer, sometimes in the same bowl. I would buy another book by these authors in a heartbeat.
I always have said, that a good cookbook begins with a map, that shows, about food from what part of the world we are tolking about hier... and still, this book was like reveletion to me, I remember my first impression very clearly !
I'm not sure, of I like how recipes are grouped at contents of this book, maybe I would prefer to know it from land and place where it comes from, perpective ...But, I bought all the rest of books by these authors, and it's my cherished posession eversinds !