Monday, June 19, 2006

a book recommendation (with a warning):

get out your credit cards and log onto amazon. the must read of the new century has arrived, especially if you like padek; the book is entitled, Ant Egg Soup: The Adventures of a Food Tourist in Laos, by Natacha Du Pont de Bie. here is the link to it on you must buy it. it looks good in a home library, even if you never read it.

i got this book for my trip to Laos. i like to read books or novels set in the country i am visiting, and this one changed the way i look at Lao cuisine, causing me to appreciate Lao food even more, (if that's even possible). after reading her romanticizations of Lao food and her descriptions of the many outdoor markets, i went back to Lao cuisine with a new energy, eating my grocery list of favorite foods, hunting down new flavors, and actively smelling vegetables and leaves in markets that i have only casually looked at before. i asked the women at the stalls what different greens were used for, and i acquainted myself with vegetables that i've heard about for years, but never knew exactly what they were. but then i lost the book when i was about a week from coming home.

well, i returned home and ordered the book a second time from amazon, but i hadn't really got back into it. but i'm in a book club with friends from the UW, and i told them about my book, ant egg soup, (or as i like to call it, ant egg soup for the soul). well, robin suggested that we read it for this next month's club meeting, and so that has gotten me back into reading it - and it's taking me back to Laos in more ways than one.

and here is the warning, the consequences of indulging in this type of book (and maybe a parental advisory label needs to be considered): well... i went to sleep the other night and fell into a misty dream. i found myself flying across a bluish-black lake in Laos (and someone told me that once you reach adulthood, flying in dreams is very unusual..? so i probably flew in my dream just to prove her wrong.) the lake was long and deep, and it was filled with all kinds of fish, all unique to Laos. then i found myself in some sort of grotto where i was talking to someone - i can't remember who. but i was amazed at the many fish circling around me, and i felt excited at the prospect of eating fresh fish - kinds that i had never tasted. then (here comes the scary part) right in front of me, there arose a big clump of pad thai noodles, and it was alive. i never knew that pad thai noodles were actually a fish! but there they were, right in front of me, turning and wriggling towards me. then somehow the glop of noodles latched onto my chest, and one of the noodle strands, presumably the head of the creature, rose up and looked me in the face, wriggling around like a long finger. i woke up then. (but not scared or with my heart pumping or my head buzzing from the night-time adrenaline rush)

just a little hungry....

consider yourself warned.