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“The Burmese army and government are not invited into the kitchen in the book,” she writes, “nor will you find discussions of human rights mixed in with the recipes here.” Politics is not a focus but Naomi happily acknowledged Burma’s new optimism—“it’s not a revolutionary feel, but a kind of relief that the logjam seems to be broken”—which has arisen with the recent turn of events, including the advent of the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi's election to parliament.

She also spoke of an added sense of responsibility in writing this book, of “wanting to do justice to the subject and to be ethical about it.”Burma is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, situated between India and China, with a long shared border with Thailand.

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An intrepid traveller—and a hungry one—Naomi went to Burma eight times to explore and learn about the people and their food.

Her first visit was in the early 1980s, at a time when the country's repressive regime and civil unrest made it unpalatable for most tourists.

The Bamar make up nearly three-quarters of the population, but there are also Shan, Kachin, Chin and many others.

Naomi—essentially a culinary ethnologist—has travelled widely around Burma and her book encompasses recipes from many of these regions.

It’s proof that two heads are not always better than one.

I was lucky enough to interview the author by phone late last year when she was finishing work on the book, and have read it in an online galley form thanks to the kind people at Artisan.As India and Myanmar are drawn into one another’s orbit, so they are pulling into the limelight some of the most forgotten corners of this part of the world – Bhutan, Nepal and the remote states of North East India.Old links are being re-kindled while new ones are being forged, building a new gateway between South and South East Asia.More than a decade ago, I was given a cookbook that taught me how to use ingredients in my own kitchen that I had previously enjoyed only in restaurants found deep in ethnic neighborhoods. And they shot roll upon roll of film—intimate portraits, sweeping vistas, the quiet poetry of everyday life. Along the way, they ate from stalls in village streets and learned to cook in the humblest of private homes, absorbing traditional techniques and discovering the kind of authentic food that is a true reflection of people, places and cultures.So my favorite Burmese meal is one eaten with friends." Watch Naomi navigate her way around a rice meal on the streets of Rangoon, here.

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  1. It feels a bit more intimate.” Of course, if you’re nervous, there are other things you can do to speed up the getting-to-know-you process.

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