Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Authentico Burmese

Be jealous.  Be very jealous.

My Burmese friends invited me over for dinner again.  An authentic Burmese dinner.  And as you can probably guess it was pure awesomeness on many levels.  First off, I really enjoy their company.  I don't have a lot of friends, but the ones that I do have are very close and dear to me.  I feel privileged and honored to have come to know this family, being invited to their wedding and welcomed into their home for dinner.  It's a very special thing to share traditional celebrations and food.

In a way, I feel like I occasionally take a cultural trip to Burma.  And what's so unique about this is that not many people get to travel there (at least not yet ... here's hoping things are changing).  Their brutal military dictatorship has wreaked havoc on the entire society the past several decades.  Some of the stories they have told me are unbelievable.  And for all of the bashing I do of our increasingly dysfunctional governmental system here in the US of A, I sure count my lucky starts knowing it could be much, much worse.

Thinking about the evening, it kind of reminds me of when those Travel Channel food show hosts jaunt around the world sampling local cuisine.  When they're lucky enough to be invited into somebody's home for a traditional meal, they always rave that it was the best meal of their trip.  And it's easy to see why.


Service was buffet style with us taking from each bowl what we wanted, and putting it onto our plates which had a bed of white rice.  They use a lot of Thai chilies in their cooking, so most of the dishes are spicy.  I like spicy.  Absolutely everything on the table was amazing, and I was especially impressed by the soup.  I'm not usually a soup guy, but the depth of flavor residing in that bowl was astounding.  Anyway, here's a brief summary of the items on the table:

Rice noodle salad - rice noodles, carrots, boiled/pureed tomatos and vinegar
Green papaya salad - grated green papaya flesh, Thai chilis, dried shrimp, garlic and lemon
Tom yum soup - lemongrass, shiitakes, shrimp, fish sauce, lime, and chilis
Beef and potato's - with garlic and ginger
Pork - with tomatos, garlic, ginger and onions
Chicken - cilantro, garlic, tomatos, onions and one other veggie I've never heard of.

The chicken dish is a traditional Kachin dish, which is the particular region of Burma my friends are from.  Interestingly, unlike our country which has one language, Burma has regional areas with many different dialects. 

As much as I love the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, the last thing on my mind that night was if the food was Paleo or not.  Or what kind of oil was used.  Or if there was soy or gluten or on and on.  Nope, sometimes you just check your ego, and your eating habits, at the door.


Chuck said...

yes, i am very jealous. i had a chinese friend growing up. his mom cooked food better than i have ever had in a restaurant. she made family style meals like you had. i miss those days.

Aaron said...

I'd say we're very fortunate ... not everybody gets to have these experiences.

The Primalist said...

Yum! I've never had Burmese food (like most people, probably).. from your description, it looks pretty paleo.. although not sure from the pic if some of the stuff is battered/fried.. either way, sounds like a pretty special experience :)

Aaron said...

It was very paleo. Nothing was breaded/battered and they use olive oil (in Burma they don't use olive oil, but this family has come to prefer it here). And rice and potatoes are their main source of starches.

Last time I had dinner at their place we had chicken feet. That's what I call using the whole animal!