Friday, April 17, 2009

The Times UK: Meet the Food Bloggers: Sticky Rice

From Times Online

April 14, 2009

Meet the Food Bloggers: Sticky Rice

Mark Lowerson posts out of Hanoi in Vietnam where he has a recipe-free blog informed by street food culture

Nick Wyke

6. Blog: Sticky Rice

What inspires you to write a food blog?

I think it is the fact that food is virtually at arm's reach wherever you are in Hanoi. There's no avoiding it. It's peddled on the street, out front of people's houses, from bicycles, under makeshift tarpaulins. Also, I have a hospitality background in a previous life, my Mum and sisters are passionate cooks. It's very rare for us to get together without the conversation turning to food, wine or coffee. We're a bit nuts in that way.

What sort of posting really gets your readers excited (good or bad)?

Hard to say. I guess anything that challenges their own food sensibilities. Posts about local delicacies, exotica, offal - that kind of thing normally provokes a wide range of responses. When I admitted to trying dog meat a few years back, I came in for some criticism. They also get quite worked up when I (sometimes knowlingly!) don't or can't identify some weird food item - it becomes like a quiz. I'm sometimes amazed at the level of interest of some people.

Which cookbook can you not do without and which chef is your hero/heroine?

I wouldn't describe my blog as a food blog in the strict sense of the word - in fact I've never posted a recipe, so chefs and cookbooks don't inform what I write so much. That said, I've always considered Stephanie Alexander's A Cook's Companion a masterpiece. I love Jamie Oliver's approach to food, the fact that he's actively trying to upsell cooking as an important life skill. I'm a bit addicted to cooking/food shows to tell the truth. Jamie once signed my copy of Happy Days at a department store signing.

Share a seasonal recipe with us... and a tip for a local restaurant?

I don't do recipes and I don't do restaurants much either. I crawl in gutters, sit on low stools, watch people and shove street food down.

Tell us something about food from your part of the world?

If you're into rice and noodles, fresh Asian greens, incredible herbs, dipping sauces, coffee made with condensed milk, fruit sour, sweet and tropical and a touch of exotica, then Vietnam is the place for you. The Vietnamese are incredibly proud of their cuisine, whether it be that from the north, centre or south of the country. Most cannot go without rice for a day. Cheese is confronting to the Vietnamese. Many do not like chocolate. Their exposure to western cuisine is still rather minimal. While access to western ingredients has grown a lot recently, it's still largely foreigners who are buying them.

What would you eat for your last supper?

I'm determined to eat a duck egg foetus while in Vietnam... and it might just kill me!

Which other food blogs do you read regularly?

For a laugh, I love Diary of a Food Whore. I can relate to the irreverent tone and the sense of disbelief at how people can behave in restaurants. It's hilarious. Nearly every post has me laughing out loud. I love Eating Asia, too. Robyn and I started blogging at about the same time, so I feel somewhat of an affinity with her. And the photographs...OMG! Unfortunately, I don't have much time to read other food blogs at the moment.

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