Texas Book Festival Lineup Includes World-Renowned Culinary Author Naomi Duguid

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From October 27-28, the Texas Book Festival will take place at the State Capitol in Austin. A number of talented, award-winning culinary authors will be attending the literary gathering, including Naomi Duguid – contributing editor of Saveur magazine and author of the recently released “Burma: Rivers of Flavor.” Duguid spent many years traveling to remote regions in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and China and has won the Cookbook of the Year Award twice for “Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia” and “Flatbreads and Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas” from the James Beard Foundation. “Burma: Rivers of Flavor” focuses on stories, flavors, ingredients, and recipes from all throughout Burma – also known as Myanmar. Duguid spoke with TEXAS MONTHLY about her newest cookbook and the cultural and culinary dynamics of Burma. Tell me about writing Burma: Rivers of Flavor. What are some of the requirements and difficulties of writing about a genre of cuisine that is so far away from where you live? The most important thing is to understand how people in Burma view the food they make and eat. What do they love about it? What is essential? Then, I need to figure out how to make it in a North American kitchen and figure out what dishes are most likely to appeal to North Americans. I know that this book chronicles many years of traveling to and from Burma. Tell me how you’ve seen Burma’s cuisine evolve through the years. I always see myself as a beginner rather than an insider, so I can’t say much about how the cuisine has evolved. It’s true, however, that as the country develops there will be more prepared foods and fewer women cooking traditional big lunchtime meals for their families. Every country and state and has a unique relationship with food. In Texas, I’d say foods like barbecue and Tex-Mex serve as a sense of pride. How does Burma’s food reflect or represent the culture and lives of the Burmese people? People in Burma vary enormously, in their economic situation and also in their culinary culture. There are central Burmese, Shan, Kachin, and other peoples – all of whom have their own cuisine. For central Burmese, I’d say tea leaf salad, laphet thoke, and a wonderful everyday noodle dish called mohinga have a national status. But everyday Burmese who have the choice [usually] eat a main meal at lunch that is centered on rice and is full of diverse and wonderful dishes. For me, that should be the thing Burmese people take the most pride in. Burma is ethnically diverse, so there is naturally going to be a lot of diversity in the food. What are some of the main culinary threads you see throughout Burma, however? There is a huge emphasis on fresh vegetables, used as a condiment, relish, and also as a simple snack in the midst of the main noontime rice meal. There’s also a lovely flexibility and light-handed approach to salads. I always like to ask authors about the stories behind writing a book. Would you tell me a story behind one of the recipes in the book? I learned the magic rice balls from a friend of a friend in Rangoon. I spent a noontime meal at her house, and we cooked together and made a number of dishes. The magic rice balls, which are made of a rice dough wrapped around small chunks of palm sugar, were amazing. We also made a light bean soup with vegetable tendrils in it. She took me out into the garden and I picked off the growing tendrils of a number of vines and plants and added them to the soup. It made me realize that there is a lot more to the vegetable kingdom than we are aware of in the Western world. I’m interested in any book or cookbook projects you have at the back of your mind. Is there a book you have yet to write that you plan on doing in the near future? I am still so entangled with Burma and all that is going on there, so I have not yet imagined myself engaged elsewhere. Ill let you know when I have found my next project! If you’re interested in taking a cooking class with Duguid, she will be hosting a “Seasonal Supper” cooking class at Central Market’s Houston Cooking School on October 25 and Central Market’s Austin Cooking School on October 28. (Other culinary authors included in the Texas Book Festival lineup are Jane Morgan, Jesse Griffiths, Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy, Robb Walsh, Bill and Claire Wurtzel, Hugo Ortega, Bruce Aidells, and Liz Gutman and Jen King.)

<p><img alt="" class="media-image attr__typeof__foaf:Image img__fid__33041 img__view_mode__media_original attr__format__media_original attr__field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]__ attr__field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]__" height="384" src="http://www.texasmonthly.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2015/03/3967453645_5ede3bf0f9_b.jpg" title="" typeof="foaf:Image" width="680" /></p> <p>As the Alamo Drafthouse’s plans for expansion continue, the Austin-based chain is in the process of adding theaters in Corpus Christi, Laredo, and El Paso—which would bring the number of Texas cities they’re in to nine. And part of the expansion process involves maintaining the theater’s famously strict rules: no texting, no talking, and no seating if you arrive late for a screening. </p> <p>One rule they’re abandoning, though, is the strict eighteen-and-up age policy. While teenagers have been restricted from visiting the Drafthouse without a parent since the company’s inception, <a href="http://www.seesawaustin.com/2015/02/alamo-drafthouse-south-lamar-reddit-dreams-come-true/" target="_blank">a thread on Reddit earlier this year</a> changed the company’s perspective on its no-teens policy.</p> <!--break--> <p>A seventeen-year-old Austinite named Josh, desperate to see a rare 3-D screening of French auteur Jean-Luc Godard’s <em>Goodbye to Language</em> on Super Bowl Sunday, took to the forum to inquire how strict the company enforced the policy. The Drafthouse’s Austin creative manager John Smith saw the post and responded that “a seventeen year old that wants to see the new Godard movie instead of the Super Bowl is our sort of teenager,” assuring Josh that he would be able to get in. (The theater was so excited to welcome Josh that it offered him a free ticket, a pair of vouchers for future films, and a gift certificate for food during the screening.) </p> <p>That led to a conversation within the Drafthouse about the policy in general, and when the company announced Amy Averett as the director of family and community engagement on Tuesday, they determined a workaround: in addition to a series of initiatives to engage teens and young people, the Drafthouse<span style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;">—at all locations—would create Alamo Drafthouse NEXT, a program through which teens could apply to be allowed into the theater without a parent. </span></p> <p><span style="line-height: 20.7999992370605px;">The idea of teenagers having to be personally and individually vetted before they can attend a movie is kind of silly, but the Drafthouse is famous for taking this sort of thing very seriously. In fact, the person who’ll be doing the vetting is, according to Averett, most likely going to be CEO Tim League himself. “</span>I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be Tim League and me. Tim is very interested. He’s the one who got excited about the idea of them submitting some sort of application for the program,” Averett says. “He’s excited to see what young people are interested in, what kind of films they’re watching, and what kind of passion they have for film.” </p> <p>As for what the application might look like, Averett says that there will most likely be two ways into the program, which the Drafthouse intends to implement within the next three months. “They could do an application that talks about their interest in film, what their background in film is, what they like, those kind of things,” she says. “Another option is that we’re starting a film education program, in conjunction with a number of the in-school film programs and nonprofits that do film programs with kids, and there might be a way to earn your way in if you attend a certain number of those.” </p> <p>In other words, they’re not opening the Drafthouse up to <em>all</em> teenagers—but, as she put it, they’re no longer “using the age policy as a proxy for good conduct.” There are plenty of adults who text throughout a movie or who get loud and rowdy—and those people aren’t welcome at the company’s theaters either. </p> <p><a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/camkage/3967453645" target="_blank"><em>(Image via Flickr)</em></a></p>

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