Chicken in the Mango Tree: Food and Life in a Thai-Khmer Village

Jeffrey Alford. Douglas & McIntyre (PGW, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $26.95 trade paper (212p) ISBN 978-1-77162-060-4
One of Alford’s chickens inexplicably likes to roost in a mango tree. His neighbors often borrow his unlocked bike without asking and gawk at him wearing summer clothes during their cold season. Such is life for a Westerner in a Thai-Khmer village. Alford, coauthor of six international cookbooks (two of which have won James Beard Awards for Cookbook of the Year), left Toronto to travel to Thailand in 2009. He eventually wound up living near the Cambodian border with his new partner, who happens to be an adept cook, skilled at foraging for wild food. What Westerners think of as Thai cuisine is far removed from Alford’s daily diet, which includes tree leaves, scorpions, toads, and ant eggs. Happily, the recipes Alford includes in this memoir are authentic but entirely feasible for Western cooks, taking ingredient availability and Western palates into account. This is far more than a cookbook; the recipes supplement the backstories. Alford immerses readers in a microcosm of Thai-Khmer life, where seemingly everything revolves around food and family. His writing is evocative, and photos of the people, food, and locales make his story all the more lush. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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