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Book review: Thai Street Food by David Thompson

Book review: Thai Street Food by David Thompson
Thai Street Food
David Thompson
RRP £40
When you buy this book make sure the car's nearby, or perhaps a devoted partner willing to tote it home on your behalf. This baby clocks in at an impressive half-stone; mail order's surely the way to go. Aptly, it's a suitably weighty read.
Antipodean Thompson is a noted authority on Thai cuisine, and 'Thai Street Food' brings the exotic delicacies and traditions of his earlier work, 'Thai Food', to ground level. The book’s size attests to the sheer volume of content, whilst serving to deliver a multi-sensory experience to the reader- indeed, with Earl Carter's beautiful photography, you could almost be on location.
Thompson conjours colours, sound, smell and taste up and out from his pages.
Thai Street Food portrays a bright, confusing, thoroughly edible landscape, through which we're expertly navigatedby Thompson's narrative. Splitting the book into sections entitled 'Morning', 'Noon' and 'Night' is a nice touch, lending a rhythm to the recipes-the closest you'll come to spending a day eating your way around the country without leaving your living room. Make sure you peruse the back pages, too, where there's a satisfyingly comprehensive ingredient guide, and captioned thumbnails of the book's illustrations.
Recipes- then- and where to start? Anyone who's eaten in Thailand will be gratified by the authentic replicas delivered by Thompson- although procuring more esoteric ingredients might well necessitate a rather grand voyage for some. Recipes names- 'Yellow Sugar Plant Pudding', 'Pandunus Noodles', and 'Sour Pork Sausages' are often tempting and evocative, but don't overlook more mundane-sounding dishes like 'Chicken and
Rice'- these are the real deal.
Thai food history is an endlessly diverting subject, and Thompson delves into the story behind every dish he introduces. Wider influences are evidenced in recipes for 'Chinese Chive Cakes' and the Muslim 'Madtarbark'- alluding to the heritage which has made Thai cuisine so rich and diverse.
'Thai Street Food' provides an ideal introduction to a world of exotic flavour, colour and texture- indeed, almost a baptism of fire. It's also a source of wonderful memories for previous visitors to the country, almost evoking tears in a close friend who spent a year in Thailand. Stunning art book and recipe oracle.
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21 October 2010
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