There are thousands of cooking blogs -- each week, we bring you highlights from the best. This week, we're roaming the streets of Asia ... hungry. Photos by David Hagerman.
You're walking down the street. In New York. The burnt sugary scent of chestnuts roasting on an open fire (regardless of the season) smells a lot better than you know they taste. But, you can't help it -- you buy a pouch of those unidentifiable candied nuts and boom -- unadulterated joy. If fleeting. Such is the story of street food.
So cut to Asia where street food reigns supreme. Where to begin? Well, assuming that particular journey is not in the cards for you today, EatingAsia is a more than apt way to start. This ethnographical blog authored by Robyn Eckhardt (a travel writer with a real pedigree) is so transportive, you can almost taste the curry puffs. After abandoning her dissertation on rural Chinese politics to write about food, Eckhardt has found her calling in documenting her traveling eats. Partnered with photographer David Hagerman, who is based in Kuala Lumpur and Penang and has clients who include The New York Times, Travel & Leisure Southeast Asia, etc., this travel devotee has produced a remarkably rich blog about their journeys, full of anthropological narrative and shots good enough to eat.
Organized by country and category, Eckhardt's graceful and intelligent writing comprehensively covers her itinerary: from Kuala Lumpur and Klang Valley to Turkish Regional Specialties, from Culinary Traditions to, ironically, Not Asia. This is the stuff of unparalleled armchair tourism, folks -- Marco Polo, eat your heart out. And it was the merits of markets, claims the duo, that drove their initial exploration:
"There was a time ... when our travels were all about marketing. Not the sort of marketing that requires credit cards and ends with stuffed shopping bags and a big dent in your bank account, but the kind you do if food is one of the first things you think about in the morning and among your last thoughts before bed. The kind of marketing that sees you cruising crowded aisles while ogling fresh produce; trading smiles, hand gestures, and shrugs with vendors who don't speak your language any better than you speak theirs; stepping daintily between puddles in dimly lit, cavernous structures; holding your breath as you transit areas thick with the smell of caged fowl; and dodging pushcarts heaped with melons or bags of ice or pig carcasses."
Just to whet your palate -- as the best of travel writing should, the passage transports you visually, sensually, now. Let your exploration begin, as EatingAsia brings faraway streets (and kitchens) to your front door.