Myanmar Traditional Food EssayBurma Traditional Food Essay
Hopefully this essay will help to put Burma's cuisine into its own contexts - and ensure its pleasure! It is my almost concealed intent to give the hardest food critic a fundamental grasp of the topic - because here in the US we have a tendency to alter other people's kitchens (if not their cultures) to live up to our aspirations instead of criticizing them in their initial contexts.
If you are a Burmese-American gourmet, here is my entry to enjoy the cuisine. However, the most important thing is that any meal can have a "classic" Myan (or Shan, or Kachin, or Kayah, or Mon, or other indigenous) rendering and a wealth of individual interpretation - as well as pizzas, tarts, cheesecakes, etc...
In order to promote this point, the classical Myanmar "Indian" meal uses "wet-thar agin chet" pigs and very acid mangos. Then the chef prepares himself for the available meats (pork or cow or chicken) and the available acidic components (from the traditional acid mango to tinned limes or mangogurk).
Burma's Washington DC restuarant uses veal. Myanmar food is not a variant of Mandarin and Hindi. Burma's cooking is made up of a large number and diversity of food from the thousand different tastes of Burma (the country's initial name was "pyi husung zur baingan daw" - or "a thousand lands combined in one regal Burma").
Like good wines, the flavour and taste of Burma's cuisine is subtle and can be valued by knowing its ingredients. Generally there can be one or more flavours (and I will use the grape variety here) of "forest earth", "sea", "sour olives", "musk" etc.. Flavours can be bittern, acid, spicy, savoury, savory, sweet, greasy, mild, peppermint, etc.
Though critics would come insisting that there is little in the way of complication, I would suggest that complication is found in abundant profusion in every court - one only has to be mindful of it and appreciate it for what it is. Burma's cuisine is more complex when you focus on every bite than when you expect it to be overpowering.
In order to best illustrate this point, I would say that the flavour of lephettuce (lephet thoke) only becomes apparent when every bite is thoroughly masticated for longer than most. Do not swallow fastfood here! Indeed, Burma food would probably be a good match for a slower food AND cuisine.
Allow the chocolates to take the sweet moment to dissolve in your mouth instead of chew through them. While some food is best chewed well, others best reveals their aromas in their own age.
An example of the large selection of meals (but unfortunately usually not available outside Burma's home cooking), "royal" pig meats with shimmery shiny dark coffee pasta ("wet Thursday poneyay Gyi") or "night market" pasta with goose flesh and goose grease ("kyar Tooth Jet"), or" southern" pig with acidic bamboos sprouts ("wet thiar myit chin"), or" national" poultry pasta ("jet thai kauk swear") and the always available fisher noodlesoup ("moe hinghar").
To put it briefly, the aromas of Burma's cooking are steamed and shaded with aromas that are salt, acidic, bitter, aromatic or even cute. Like the humans, this kitchen is very individual. Serve in traditional styles, there can be between two and a dozen or even more spices on the dinner plate - a combination that allows each individual to adapt the ultimate flavour to their own tastes!
These spices should be at a basic (or even free) rate at every Myanmar establishment! If one eats at home or in a place, the traditional way to dine is en-family or "family style" - each meal is served following the paddle - and everyone eats what he wants.
A dessertspoon with forks can be provided in a place - the food is consumed with a forked tray with which the food is pushed onto the forks. Myanmar teas or other beverages such as soda or beers are often accompanied by a dinner. Hopefully this brief essay will help you choose the food AND restaurants the next day you see a Myanmar-based one.
The recently opened Yoma in Boston (Allston) has a beautiful selection of classic meals that are genuine portrayals of their local origin (often Shan - one of Burma's states).
However, the food is of excellent qualitiy and I would urge you to take full care of it. Then Boston will have another ethnical place to be most proud of!