Immerse Through Food

One of the most interesting ways I know to engage with the world is through food. I’m not so much talking about sharing a meal, although that too is engagement, but more about getting insights into culture and into people’s daily lives by learning about what they eat, where their food comes from, how they farm and fish, and also of course how households get everyday meals on the table.

I love hanging around in villages and small towns, especially in markets, but also in tea shops and out on the street, watching how the day unfolds for people.  In many places, growing, gathering, and preparing food is the main task of everyone in the family but the infants.  As an outsider I know little or nothing of the skills involved; I am an extreme beginner.  And with a beginner’s eyes I watch as fields are ploughed or harvested, rice and wheat are threshed and vegetables gathered, cattle or goats are milked, and food is prepared.
I’ll be posting images and links on this page that are food and culture related.  I encourage you to go to the photography page to see more images, and also to the Chiang Mai page, for there you’ll find a way of getting immersed in the regional cuisines of Thailand.  Also head off to some of the links, on the comments and links page; some of them have great images too.

Food Links – for other links go to the comments & links page – The original website for Asia Access and for the work I did for over twenty years with Jeffrey Alford, with info about the cookbooks we co-authored and other work. It’s there for the browsing, as a kind of archive.
– Chef Brad Borchardt has a huge curiosity and energy, a background in Philosophy and Anthropology, has wored in Tokyo, Beijing, and Bangkok, as well as for Mark Miller and others in the US. His website is lively and full of info about the places he knows well foodwise. A great place to check before a trip… and also for his great experience with immersethrough – My close friend Cassandra’s site, in which she engages with the world of food through her especial interests: recipes that are diabetic-friendly, and issues around nutrition generally. She’s an inventive and fearless cook, and an imaginative and diligent researcher, so as it grows this site will be a great resource. – For people who are in and around Toronto, this website will lead you to Dawn Woodward and Edmund Rek, two of the best people I know… I say that not because we are good friends (we are), but because they bring remarkable energy and commitment to all that they do, from raising their daughter, to catering dinners and parties, to teaching hands-on cooking classes, to making unique hand-crafted organic crackers (Evelyn’s Crackers). – The interesting always-changing website of Jeff Koehler, who writes, photographs, and cooks, and turns his travels and ideas into books. (Another great guy who does this is James Oseland, editor of Saveur and author of the wonderful book CRADLE OF FLAVOR). Jeff is based in Barcelona, has one book out, called LA PAELLA, and another due out in the fall of 2009 from Chronicle. It should be both beautiful and a cook’s treasure, since it engages with rice, pasta, and couscous in the Mediterranean, with explorations in places like Croatia and Algeria that have been very under-represented in books and magazines in North America. And his photographs are lovely. – The growing website of a chef and great guy who has a wide curiosity about food. His name in Cameron Stauch. He lived four years in India with his family, and is soon heading off to live in Vietnam for another long posting. All of which means his recipes are wide-ranging. He posts new ones each week. – Also in the Bay area, Mary Risley’s cooking school, with lively instructors, one of the longest running and best… – Mick Vann is one of the most culinarily curious people I have ever met. He lives in Austin Texas, has an encyclopedic knowledge of plants of all kinds, including those of Southeast Asia, has good Thai friends in Texas and also in Thailand, and does tours to Southeast Asia every so often. – A lively attractive site about food, design, and travel, with interviews and lots of photos too.