I adore Burmese food. For me it is not just great food, it is a very special food that connects me to a very important part of my character; my Burmese cultural heritage. If it wasn’t for Burmese food being a constant in my life, I am sure I would have experienced a great void in my cultural identity.
My Early Years
I was born in Burma and moved to England in 1964, when I was five years old. My paternal background is Burmese, Irish and Chinese. My maternal background is Burmese, English, German and Portuguese – very multicultural! Burmese food has allowed me to embrace my culture from a distance. I don’t speak Burmese – my parents made a conscious decision not to speak to me and my siblings in Burmese so as we would have the best chance to integrate into 60s Britain.
Nevertheless, my parents maintained our Burmese cultural identity through food. My personal relationship with Burmese food illustrates a particular insight into how it has been assimilated into British food culture albeit at a very locale level, and how it has managed to survive and flourish despite the boundaries imposed in Burma for over 50 years. Given my cultural influences, my Burmese food is very unique in its perspective, its creativity and its presentation.
I have been cooking Burmese food all my life. As a young child I had to walk what felt like miles, for about an hour, to the only Asian shop around to buy basic ingredients to cook Burmese food. Both my parents are excellent cooks as are my five siblings. I have always loved cooking: the invention of new flavours and combinations of cuisines never ceases to fascinate me. However, of all the foods I’ve tasted, Burmese Food for me is the most exciting: yet not many know about it. This is something I am committed to changing.
A few years ago, I approached a cookery school and asked them if they’ve ever had Burmese food to which they, like most people, replied no. I took along a sample for them to taste – they loved it and subsequently said I could showcase my food to their students. The students loved the Burmese food and I went on to teach further classes. I then decided to host Burmese supper clubs from my home which I have been doing very successfully since July 2012. I have also hosted Burmese Popup restaurants in London. I was also short-listed in 2013 by Asia House to win a travel research bursary to Burma to write a Burmese cookery book. So as you can see, I am determined to put Burmese Food on the food map!
I am at my happiest in the kitchen, cooking and creating new and exciting dishes, combining ingredients and fusing new ones. I love entertaining, and socialising – nothing gives me greater fulfilment than the look of excitement, pleasure and contentment on the faces of my guests round my dinner table. I even enjoy the clearing up!
My intention is to write a contemporary Burmese cookery book combining my particular perspective and personal food experiences of Burmese Food within England, the country I have loved for the past 50 years. Now that Burma is opening its borders I really think Burmese Food is the new buzz! If ever you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to try Burmese Food, no matter where you are in the world, grab it with both hands…you won’t regret it!