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4.7 out of 5 stars
Burma: Rivers of Flavor
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book is spectacular. I have spent many years cooking from other books written by Naomi Duguid, and was worried that her fairly recent divorce from Jeffrey Alford (her longtime co-author) would end the string of phenomenal cookbooks. I am so pleased (selfish though this may be) that Naomi has written a book that rivals any of the previous.

Naomi isn't a celebrity chef. She doesn't dash off a cookbook, and then trade on name recognition for sales. She truly immerses herself in a culture, for years and years, living amongst the indigenous people and learning from them. Her resulting cookbooks include not only truly authentic recipes, but stories and photos from her time spent in those places. This cookbook, like the others, is a great glimpse into another culture.

Though the cookbook is authentic, the recipes are entirely accessible. They don't contain numerous hard-to-find or expensive ingredients. They are also quite easy to prepare for anyone with an average knowledge of cooking. The most unsual things you might have to do are to fry some crispy shallots or whirl a handful of dried shrimp in a spice/coffee grinder (or food processor).

I cannot wait to roll up my sleeves and cook, and cook and cook, from this lovely book. The recipes I've made so far are fantastic, and I plan to make many more.
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
From a Burmese native, this book is spot on and Naomi capture Burmese cuisine perfectly. I only wish there were more photos of the finished products of each recipe.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book reminds me why I still like to buy cookbooks in paper versions, even though I've collected more recipes online than I will ever use and already have many more cookbooks than I need. Unwrapping a new cookbook and flipping through it, backwards and forwards, checking out the recipes, photos and other illustrations, putting in markers for what I might try, going back to change them when I find something better, and putting a tick next to the successes that will be cooked again will always beat copying a new online recipe, no matter how good it is.

Previous to buying this book, I knew some of Burma's history (especially during WW2) a little of its oppressive past (with the longterm house arrest of Aung-San-Suu-Kyi) and had a vague idea only of its geography and cultural mix. I had no idea about its food and bought the book on a whim, thinking I might holiday there before the place becomes over-ridden (with tourists just like me.)

Having now read it, and cooked five delicious dishes, I think Naomi Duiguid should be paid a heap by the Burmese Tourism Agency, if such a place exists.

Duiguid provides an excellent selection of delicious recipes. (I've no idea how authentic they are but notice other reviewers with local expertise seem to give them thumbs up.) She also includes some great photos of various locations and extra info for travellers gleaned from her many trips to the country, making the place sound like a great holiday destination.

I notice that David Lebovitz, in his fabulous food blog from Paris, only days ago gave this book a positive and even glowing commentary, including a couple of recipes from the book for his readers to try. That can only be good for Duiguid and for Burmese tourism.
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38 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I've cooked one dish from here. It was a beef and potato dish, which the author said she made with eggplant instead (and I had an abundance of eggplant). I used pork, since one of my guests has heart palpitations from beef. Oh, and it turns out I was out of shallots, so I had to use onions instead. It was amazing. I never thought eggplant could actually taste good.

This book could be called Shallots instead of Burma. You need a lot of shallots. The recipes are all well suited to cooking in a Western kitchen, but still feel like what I'd imagine food is really like in Burma. I really don't know if they really are like Burmese food, but I trust the author. You will need to probably visit a specialty store (or the internet) because the main ingredients are not 100% megamart safe, but the bulk of the items are available easily.

And you will need lots of shallots.

Also, her other books are all awesome as well. I heartily recommend all of them in addition to this book.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I loved what another reviewer said earlier: "Buy shallots." Yes! And you'll be so glad that you did!

First, it's worth noting that this book is gorgeous. Everything about the design--the layout, the photography, the fonts, everything--is just visually stunning and inspiring. It's almost worthy of being a coffee-table travel book. However, that description alone doesn't do the book justice because the recipes are amazing. Granted, I've tried only four of the recipes so far, but every single one is a winner so far. I'll be sure to add a comment to this review if I later try a recipe that isn't great.

I'm a vegetarian. This is not a vegetarian cookbook. However, I really appreciate that the author provided vegetarian options and suggestions wherever possible. Thank you!

What I've made so far:

* Paneer in Tomato Sauce: SO GOOD. I cannot believe how tasty this is. The recipe calls for paneer, but I instead used extra-firm tofu that I pressed the heck out of first. Even my omnivorous husband agreed that this was one of the best tofu dishes I've ever made for him. We both can't wait to eat this again.

* Perfumed Coconut Rice: Quite possibly the most delicious rice I've ever made at home. YUM. I will come back to this recipe again and again, I'm sure.

* Shallot Lime Chutney: Beautiful, light, and vibrant. A clean, bright accompaniment to the heavier main dishes. Next time, I will make this spicier than the recipe called for.

* Semolina Cake: I was surprised by how much this cake really did taste like halvah, even though it contains no sesame. It was unusual and delicious. I do wish that the recipe had provided a bit more guidance about what to expect (and what signs to look for) during the stove-top portions, but the cake still turned out just fine. I think mine was a bit more crumbly than it was intended to be, but it was still delicious.

I'm excited to keep making my way through this book and trying more of the recipes. Buy this book, and then go buy shallots!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As long-time ethnic food enthusiasts, my wife and I have a cookbook library of more than 400 volumes that cover cuisines from all over the world. With literally thousands of recipes to choose from--more than we can possibly make for the rest of our lives--we mark each one we prepare with a little orange Avery self-adhesive dot so we won't inadvertently make it again. With a few exceptions, everything we cook is new to us. Having a lot of experience with the herbs, spices and cooking techniques of international cuisines, we've become pretty good judges of whether a recipe is good just by the ingredients list. By this standard, the hundreds of recipes in Naomi Dequid's "Burma: Rivers of Flavor" are excellent indeed.

Burmese cuisine is fascinating, spicy and exotic. Situated between Thailand and India, Burma (okay, "Myanmar," if you insist) features food that is an amazing combination of the cuisines from the nations that border it. We discovered Burmese food many years ago at "Nan Yang," a small restaurant in the Chinatown section of Oakland, California. It was still in business when I last checked, and it's well worth a visit. Burmese restaurants are rare in America, but we seek them out on every trip (along with Afghan restaurants, but that's another story). "Burma: Rivers of Flavor" perfectly captures the mystery, variety and uniqueness of Burmese cuisine in a well-organized, visually striking volume that is sure to captivate adventurous cooks.

An interesting introductory section describes the country, its people and the basics of its cuisine. Then come the recipes: 1) Salads, 2) Soups, 3) Vegetables, 4) Fish and Seafood, 5) Chicken, 6) Beef and Pork, 7) Condiments and Sauces, 8) Rice, 9) Noodles and 10) Sweet Treats. Sprinkled throughout are sidebars that provide glimpses into Burmese life, culture and people, as well as exquisite photographs, many of them at full-page size, of some of the recipes and of the country itself. With a glossary of Burmese terms, an annotated bibliography of books about Burma, and a detailed index of recipes and ingredients, "Burma: Rivers of Flavor" is an absolutely outstanding one-volume paean to Burma and its sumptuous cuisine that novices and experienced cooks alike should enjoy.

I have to say a few words about the book's layout, which is, in short, stunning. Printed in vivid color on sturdy, matte-finish paper, its ratio of photos to text is just about perfect, and the recipes and text are crisp, clear and very readable. I'm not a big fan of cookbooks with no pictures at all, such as Copeland Marks' "The Burmese Kitchen" and Aung Aung Taik's "The Best of Burmese Cooking." I think pictures of the food entice one to explore a cookbook much more than do just pages of sterile text--after all, food is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. "Burma: Rivers of Flavor" gets it right. I can drive myself nuts just paging through it and drooling over the photos of the dishes and the lists of ingredients. Yes, the shrimp paste and fish sauce called for in many of the recipes may be acquired tastes, but they give Burmese food its unique character, and are certainly required for authenticity.

All in all, "Burma: Rivers of Flavor" is an absolutely superb cookbook that I'd rate one of the best in our collection. It's going to be filled with orange Avery dots in no time...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I recall cookbooks used to be merely a collection of recipes and perhaps a few photographs of the food. They were important to have in the kitchen but no where else. One also had a tendency to only have cookbooks for the foods they normally eat.

Modern cookbooks, however, are much more and especially when they talk about foods most people have not been introduced to. They talk about the country and the people where the foods are eaten on a daily basis.

My wife is Burmese so I may be biased in my review, but I found Burma:Rivers of Flavor a great book with wonderful recipes and
great pictures but more important great writing by Naomi Duguid. Ms. Duiguid showed that she loves cooking and knows and loves the Burmese culture.

I strongly recommend this book to both people who want to cook some great Burmese dishes (finding a Burmese restaurant in most cities in the United States is really hard) and to those of us who just want to know more about Burma, the Golden Land.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The field of "Burmese" cookbooks is a sketchy one, so I have trouble containing my praise and delight at this cookbook.

The hardback version, which I got new and incredibly cheaply from Amazon, is nothing short than work of art, not only being a very hardy book, but filled with the author's photographs from her journeys in Myanmar over the last two decades; and she has a good an eye for photography as she does for writing. The production values are so high, it makes me want to see what else the publisher (Artisan) has done.

The book is filled with anecdotes from her personal travels, as well as historical and anthropological notes gleaned from others. She takes great pains, as well, to devote portions of this compendium to the different ethnic groups and regions of Myanmar, not just focusing on Bamar or Yangon (f.k.a. Rangoon) cuisine. In doing so, she details very unique cooking techniques including the preparation of some ingredients that would be impossible to purchase outside of parts of Myanmar, such as Tua Nao (Shan soybean disks).

The excellent annotated bibliography, glossary, conversions and index are the frosting on the cake.

In 2003, I was traveling around Myanmar as a graduate student doing research, and nothing since then has really captured the essence of that country's food and culture until I read this book.

I forgot to mention, the most important part: The huge number of recipes are imminently easy to follow, clear and filled with helpful suggestions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
an authentic, original,well written masterpiece of burmese cuisine from the various villages,of the region, using local products and timeless recipes passed down the generations from mother to daughter
an essential for any and all
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I am an avid reader who never buys a novel. But I can sit up half the night browsing a new cookbook. My collection over the years includes all of Naomi's previous books, and I didn't hesitate to pounce on her newest. I didn't read for very long though before I was browsing the pantry to check ingredients, and after a quick trip to an Indian and an Asian grocery I was ready to cook. I spent a few minutes preparing a few items as she suggested, and then spotted the Shan Tofu recipe - unbelievably easy. Shan Tofu Salad followed. The flavor and texture combinations have me hooked. As promised, heat is added with a light hand, and I have found everything I have tried to be most enjoyable.

The book is beautiful with Naomi's excellent photography. And her narrative reveals a culture that is unknown to the modern world. And perhaps most striking, intentional or not, she has created a beautiful tribute to women. Very few men appear in her photos. Her stunning portraits of women attest to grace and dignity seldom seen in today's world. Well done.
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