Denise and I left Australia on 16 January and returned on 7 March 2017. We stayed in Chiang Mai from 24 February to 5 March (10 days) a much shorter time than usual. We’d previously spent four weeks in Burma, attended a family wedding in Bangkok, and spent a few days at a resort in Hua Hin (not my favourite style or place, but family).
It is always nice to come back to Chiang Mai. It is one of my favourite places in Thailand — much cheaper than Bangkok, but more manageable also.
Chiang Mai has been changing rapidly over the past five years with continuing development. Chinese tourism is having a major impact (especially at Chinese New year) and will continue to expand. As in many places, the provincial government is not always making sensible decisions with regard to development.
Food writing 2: Articles I liked from Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky
Writing about food some fine writers and articles
In Food writing 1, I analysed Mark Kurlansky’s anthology Choice Cuts: A Savory Selection of Food Writing from Around the World and Throughout History, 2002. The book contains 234 articles, which covers the range of food writing from 500 BC to roughly the last thirty years. I said that I thought Kurlansky had done a good job of covering the breadth and depth of food writing. I then looked at the range of writers involved and gave a brief description of those who had four articles or more in the book.
My only qualms with Kurlansky’s range had to do with my wish to be entertained and informed through good writing. On these subjective criteria I chose 32 articles that I admired and another 40 I found of interest.
It is my task in this and the next article to give some descriptions and at least acknowledge articles in the book that I feel worthy of following up on. A somewhat daunting task I now realise.
Food Writing 1: Choice Cuts by Mark Kurlansky, a look at food writing across history
Writing about food an introductory excursion
I am a fan of Mark Kurlansky’s writing. I loved Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, 1997 and The Basque History of the World (1999). Although I found Salt: A World History, a bit hard going 2002. Those of you who have been following my What is History? series will not be surprised about my liking for Cod.
Without going deeper into Kurlansky’s biography two things emerge from his first two books above, particularly the second, which is his passion for and love of food.
I picked up Choice Cuts secondhand from Canty’s bookstore. It was one of those books that one feels one has to read. Although I admit it languished on my bookshelves for two years before I began to read it. I found it fascinating but rather hard going too. I suspect many people buy Choice Cuts and only dip into it casually. It is quite tome-like at 473 pages and easy to consider as a reference book, but unlike Larousse Gastronomique, which is a reference book, though a wonderful one, it is possible to read Choice Cuts the whole way through.
Food in Chiang Mai 5: Airport Plaza with some side notes on Bangkok
Coming from Australia, it seems strange to recommend and be writing about food in a shopping mall. I have eaten in shopping malls in Australia but I wouldn’t brag about it. However, shopping malls in Thailand and their food halls and restaurants can be very good.
From the past articles, you will be beginning to gain an idea of some of my habits in Chiang Mai. I mostly stay at the Sakorn Residence across the river. I frequently stay at Sakorn for a month or so at a time, because their rate by the month is much cheaper. I always hire a motorcycle to get around and use Nancy Chandler’s map.
In Britain or in far-flung outposts around the world in what either used to be the British Empire or in countries influenced by Britain, one meets the British. And when the conversation turns to food, the Brits inevitably bore you about how their food ‘din’t used to be much good’, but now — with the new wave of chefs, money, culinary interest, etcetera and etcetera — the food in Britain has changed and become as good as ‘the best in the world’. Continue reading “British Food — an appraisal of the middle”→