Tuesday, December 23, 2008


It's eight days since I walked back in the front door here in Toronto, to a warm house and Jeff and Dom and Tashi and Ian, as well as a young visitor from Germany named Vanessa.  Vanessa was here for a visit, her first time in Canada, never imagining that she'd be here for the coldest snowiest December ever (or at least that's how it seems).  When we drove her to the airport today, she said to us on parting that she'd be back only in the summer - "if there really IS summer here!" was her parting shot.

The sun IS coming back, we said feebly.  Solstice is a time for hope, right?!?

The Burma proposal is coming together.  It feels so important to be doing it, for many reasons. And in the course of doing research for the proposal, we've realised how right it is from a food point of view.  Burma is such a crossroads, with influences from Thailand, Yunnan, and the Indian subcontinent on the various local cuisines.  It's ideal for us, for we're pretty well-grounded in the surrounding culinary cultures.  Burma is like the keystone, the place in the middle where our other books come together in a fascinating overlapping way.  So I think we're going to be able to navigate happily in the colorful patchwork that is Burma's culinary heritage, and to celebrate its richness.  I can't wait.

Meantime, since getting to Toronto we've had a rather heady bunch of encounters and emails and conversations, many of them because of Jane Kramer's piece in the New Yorker.  Among them was a one-hour radio interview, a live phone-in, on NPR, that ranks as one of the two or three best and most satisfying radio interviews we've ever done, separately or together.  We were on  show called On Point, last Thursday, the 18th, for the show's second hour (11 to noon Eastern).  It's out of Boston, and is available in pod-cast.  The host, Tom, was so skilled, and so at ease in the larger Asian world (he worked as a journalist all over Asia for a long time), that the transitions and conversations felt effortless and beautifully connected.  We all had fun, including the many callers. We're now going to make a habit of catching his broadcasts online.  When radio is good, it is so wonderful...

Another recent fun event was the solstice party we went to on the 21st.  We both love that feeling of swimming into a party where we know few of the guests.  It's a little like a treasure hunt.  This party was especially fun and engaging, with a great mix of people who were prepared to engage in fun conversation.  We even got in some dancing!

And the weather?  Well that's less hot - deep crunchy squeaky snow everywhere, and slush at the sides of the main streets.  Yikes!  Haven't had a white Christmas for awhile in Toronto, so I suppose we're overdue, but this year is a shocker.

Then in mid-January I'm due to head back over the pole to Chiang Mai.  I'll miss Dom and Tashi and Ian, but I so love the immersion in language, the chance to embark on the unknown.  And it's time to move to the next (less domestic) phase of life, to be out and about, with my eyes wide open.  Our eight-day immersethrough food cooking class starts February 1, and then by mid-February I hope I am in Sittwe, on Burma's west coast, hanging around...   

All suggestions welcome!

No comments: