Why this book?
Many of us have a passion project that lies within. The question for most is not when this project will come to life, but if it ever will. As a firm believer in serendipity, I've learned the only way for these ideas to take shape is to create real space for them to show up.
When this project came my way, the timing was impeccable. I have always wanted to write a book that merged bold food with culture and wellness. And at the time, I was also going through a major personal transition. Diving deep into the iconic Burmese tea leaf salad, a symbol of peace and unspoken dispute resolution for the people of Myanmar, inspired an intense creative energy to enter my life.
During my research, I also realized how long the people of Myanmar have been trying to find their place in the world. A relentless dichotomy of positive and negative, shadow and light, has been their reality for centuries. Still, they are able to create such riveting food.
Their relationship with food, and the ritual of gathering around a table to cultivate community, is ingrained in them. And, I believe, this way of living provides the necessary strength to reinvent as a society, over and over again. These simple rhythms of living, like cooking and eating while enduring loss, displacement, and immense heartache, have the ability to create a richness in place, in home. That feeling is internally constructed and cannot be lost.
Living this simplistic way of life during the development of the book brought forth my own process of reinvention. I often tell people this book saved me. A bold statement, I know. But, it did. This project became the most pivotal, fulfilling, exhausting, and thrilling adventure of my life so far. I hope you'll find something transformative - and thrilling - within these pages yourself.
Full of unexpected, contradictory flavors and textures I set off on an expedition of whimsical curiosity to develop these recipes. Tart and sweet; salty and bitter, crunchy and tender; spicy and cool; fresh and cooked - these are the elements that have earned the iconic tea leaf salad cult status. That balance, those surprising details, are the core of this book.
Within the recipes you'll find the following combinations: lime-infused green mango with tangles of slippery noodles and ruby-red chili oil; smoky, spicy kimchi with sweet star anise and maple pork; tart green apple, threads of saffron, and garlic prawns; bright preserved lemon, creamy goat cheese and tart sumac; sweet summer watermelon, farro, grilled halloumi, and floral pink peppercorn; and briny sea scallops with crushed chamomile-grapefruit salt.
Praise for The Modern Salad
"Keep them coming, you have a wonderful voice and a deep knowledge of recipe writing and food. We need to hear more from you."
- Rebecca Katz | Nationally-recognized culinary expert and bestselling author
"Really lovely book!"
- Bruce Cole | Publisher and editor, Edible San Francisco magazine