Want some good info on Asian food? Check out The New Yorker’s annual food issue released today. There’s a fabulous profile of Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, the folks behind Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet (food traditions along the Mekong River) and the latest Beyond the Great Wall (foodways of western China). Naomi and Jeffrey are terrific people and it’s a pleasure to get to know them even better.
Journalist and author Fuschia Dunlop strikes another blow for Asian cooking. Her story about a Hangzhou, China, chef who strictly adheres to high standards demonstrates how Asia is not all about quick-money-making schemes and tainted food. Dunlop wrote a great memoir called Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper and cookbooks Land of Plenty (Sichuan) and Revolutionary Chinese Cooking (Hunan).
What does any of this have to do with Vietnamese food and cooking? These are the kinds of writers who demystify and de-exoticize Asian cuisines, connecting and knitting them into the global culinary landscape instead of letting them sit on the margins. That’s what the aim of this blog is. If you read and cook from these people’s works, you’ll be able to connect the dots between Vietnamese cooking and the cooking of the region!
Finally, I often am asked: Do you have to be Asian to authoritatively write about Asian food? Do you have to be Asian to cook Asian food well? What do you think?