Chicken in the Mango Tree
In the small village of Kravan in rural Thailand, the food is like no other in the world. The diet is finely attuned to the land, taking advantage of what is local and plentiful. Made primarily of fresh, foraged vegetables infused with the dominant Khmer flavours of bird chiles, garlic, shallots and fish sauce, the cuisine is completely distinct from the dishes typically associated with Thailand.
Bestselling food writer and photographer Jeffrey Alford has been completely immersed in this unique culinary tradition for the last four years while living in this region with his partner Pea, a talented forager, gardener and cook. With stories of village and family life surrounding each dish, Alford provides insight into the ecological and cultural traditions out of which the cuisine of the region has developed. He also describes how the food is meant to be eaten: as an elaborate dish in a wedding ceremony, a well-deserved break from the rice harvest, or just a comforting snack at the end of a hard day.
Chicken in the Mango Tree follows the cycle of a year in Kravan, and the recipes associated with each season—steamed tilapia during the rainy season, mushroom soup, called tom yam het, during the cold season, rice noodles with seafood during the hot months and spicy green papaya salad as comfort food all year round. With helpful substitutes for the more exotic ingredients and cooking methods, Alford's recipes and stories blend together to bring a taste of this little-known region to North American homes.