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Ant Egg Soup: The Adventures Of A Food Tourist In Laos Hardcover – March 30, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Although the treatise of a royal chef (Phia Sing, Traditional Recipes of Laos) is a touchstone for her journey, more often the passport into ordinary kitchens and family dinners is her genuine curiosity and readiness to roll up her sleeves to chop, pound, simmer, and taste. Her experiences certainly ring true and at least partially timeless; in 2014 I could easily identify some of the specific places, situations, and foods described in the narrative from 2000.
The context for this exploration of cuisine is a backpacker-style trip of simple pleasures and no frills, which accords with the author's bohemian upbringing. This approach also meets Laos on its own terms - humble and full of life. If the annoyances (bugs, no mattress, Golden Triangle drug tourists, a loathsome millionaire sexual predator) seem too daunting, people with an interest in following her footsteps should know that it is also possible to journey in greater comfort and still eat authentic food in selected locales that have more tourism infrastructure. If using the book as a guide to specific foods, one could wish for an index. In compensation, there is a helpful appendix to (UK) sources of ingredients for those wishing to recreate the numerous recipes, and a list of reference works for further exploration.
I now even have some recipes I can use...and they are good recipes put into the context of where she learned them. That is the best part. I love the way she sketches different things that she sees such as the vegetable gardens along the Mekong, the faces and garb of the hill tribe women she meets and the post slaughter image of a turkey that she later enjoyed. Her description of the children she meets in the countryside and their laughter is so spot on and haunting. The book is a contemporary masterpiece on Southeast Asian culture for foreign readers, like me. I have yet to read a book of the food/travel genre that tells part of the Southeast Asian experience any better than this.....especially for lovers of food and Southeast Asian culture like myself.
Bottom line, I would recommend this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author loves food and loves Laos, which really helped me in a recent bike trip through the country. Read morePublished on February 2, 2013 by Barbara Bennett
"Ant Egg Soup" is not merely food writing--my fear is that a lot of people who would love this insightful, fascinating description of a journey through Laos will not read it... Read morePublished on August 9, 2008 by Christopher Tricarick