Asia Travel News

Taste the joys of Burma

A tour of Burma is still a novel attraction for travelers, as the country has only recently opened up to outsiders after nearly 50 years of strict military rule. While there's plenty to admire, one of the blossoming culture's standouts is the cuisine, a tantalizing combination of sweet, sour, hot and salty that establishes its own rules in the southeast Asian food scene.

Budding between the cracks
Squeezed in between India and China - two heavyweights of geography, politics and cuisine - is Burma, a country that has seen few outsiders in the latter half of the 20th century. The threats of a violent government once meant that fearful citizens cleared a teahouse when a foreigner entered, according to The Telegraph. Yet, with the yoke of oppression recently lifted, the tourism industry is rapidly on the rise, and hotel rooms are a highly valued and - until more hotels are built - rare commodity, according to CNN.

Aside from the temples, markets and people, it is the food that makes Burma such an appealing destination. While the main ingredients of a Burmese meal may not sound like anything astoundingly original - rice, fish, meat, vegetable and spices - the specifics of the dishes help the country to carve out its own place among its sizable neighbors.

"Our food is not as famous in the world as Thai or Indian, but our aunties are just as good cooks," said Thataw Tabun, an organizer of the much-acclaimed Burmese food fair in Queens, to The New York Times.

Bursting with flavor
The dishes are much like Thai and Vietnamese, but what they boast are new approaches, blending Thai and Chinese sweet and sour with Indian spices and smoky palm sugar. One particularly famous meal 
is Thoke, a dish that's a combination of vegetables, herbs, nuts and seeds, adorned with pork or shrimp. 

"The Burmese want a little bit of everything in each bite," said Ms. Duguid of the rich and varied cuisine in that report by the New York Times. 

The food blog Uncornered Market noted a few other singular dishes, including Mohinka - a national dish of vermicelli in fish-broth with bana blossom, boiled eggs and fritters. Barbecue Street in Rangoon offers a wide variety of grilled items, such as okra, broccoli, mushrooms and tofu. Travelers can also find pumpkin curries, mung beans and spicy masala with strong dashes of lemon juice to awaken the senses.

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