A Taste of Burma

Traditionally, most armchair travellers see Burma as little more than a hotbed of political unrest. In her lavishly illustrated Burma: Rivers of Flavour, acclaimed traveller, photographer and cookbook author Naomi Duguid provides us with a much richer perspective. Her mission? To show us that - thanks to the people, the landscape and the food - Burma is something more than "a black hole of military oppression".  In a recent visit to the shop, the Toronto-based Duguid called Burma a place of culinary adventure where the fresh, accessible street food continues to honour "the village way of making things." Smiling she added: "Generals have no place in the kitchen."

Duguid's talk on the  region was accompanied by an illuminating series of slides. The evening featured an inspired tasting menu prepared by chef Angus An of Vancouver's Maenam restaurant. As guests enjoyed a selection of appetizers that included grilled chili relish, smoked sausage, fermented pork with endive and a classic deep-fried banana on a stick, the author continued to elaborate on Burma's rich tradition of street food. 

"Everything is rustic, robust and made right in front of you," she explained. "The food is really interesting- whether it's handmade noodles or the different kinds of meats that are grilled over charcol or wood. Everything is a balance of textures as well as flavours."   

Duguid offered that she's "cautiously optimistic" about the future of Burma - now called Myanmar. "They're heading in a direction that deserves to be celebrated," she said. And then there's the culinary side of things. "They have a beautifully simple approach to food," she observed. "It's a lasting reminder that we're all human and all in this together."