One week into returning home from Myanmar and I’m into the toughest part about writing the Burma Superstar cookbook, which is how to make sense of all the newly acquired information. Here’s an example: on our trip, we tasted a lot of great Burmese sweets, and I want to include some in the book.
The trouble is that many of the sweets rely on techniques and ingredients that are a bit unorthodox compared with more Euro- and American-style sweets. Recipes also start with “take a coconut and make milk from it…..” That’s been the case with a funny little book called Bamar Snacks that we found in a hotel gift shop. The author, Ohnmar Shirr, wanted to create a record of these recipes so that these traditions wouldn’t disappear as western eating habits begin to slowly filter into the country.
This part made me laugh:
“Snacks enjoyed by westerners contain high calories and fats. The westerners therefore gain more weight due to high-calorie snack, that mostly leads to obesity. They suffer from after effect of their calorie-rich snacks. But Bamar snacks are comparatively harmless to consumers.”
Some endorsement. Unfortunately, Shirr’s recipes are not easy to replicate. I tried making “Mandalay Greasy Sweet,” a coconut caramel chew that is truly delicious despite this weird translation, but the results of this particular recipe were terrible—pale and slimy—and nothing like what I tasted in Mandalay. The semolina cake was closer but not perfect. I was starting to go a little mad, so I thought it would be good to step away for an afternoon and enter a more familiar world of baking. [click to continue…]