It's the season for armchair travel, for escapist browsing through exotic cookbooks, and comforting trips to the kitchen.
Here are some guide books for those looking toward Asia and Hawaii:
"Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass" by Wendy Hutton (Periplus, 2004, $35) has recipes from southeast Asia, from Bangkok to Bali, with plenty of informative text and lavish color photos. The writer, who has specialized in Asian food and travel for some 35 years, lives in Malaysia.
"From Bangkok to Bali in 30 Minutes" by Theresa Volpe Laursen and Byron Laursen arvard Common Press, 2003, $14.95) offers "175 fast and easy recipes with the lush, tropical flavors of southeast Asia." The writers' first cookbook was the well-received "True Thai"; they live in New Jersey.
"Flavors of Burma (Myanmar)" by Susan Chan ippocrene, 2003, $22.50) is described as featuring "cuisine and culture from the Land of Golden Pagodas." Chan was born in Burma and now lives in Australia.
"Exotic Tastes of Sri Lanka" by Suharshini Seneviratne ippocrene, 2003, $24.95) has recipes and background from the Indian Ocean island where the writer was born. She's now a resident of Washington, D.C.
"Simple Laotian Cooking" by Penn Hongthong ippocrene, 2003, $24.95) conveys the distinct flavors of the writer's native Laos, and includes 172 recipes. Hongthong, now based on Long Island, N.Y., teaches Laotian and Thai cooking.
"Foolproof Thai Cooking" by Ken Hom ylas, 2003, $19.95) brings the writer's stellar reputation as an authority on Asian cooking to this collection of 40 recipes for popular Thai dishes, illustrated with plenty of color photos. Hom is based in London and France, but also spends time as a guest-chef in Bangkok.
"Vietnamese Home Cooking" by Robert Carmack, Didier Corlou and Nguyen Thanh Van (Periplus, 2003, $19.95) has easy-to-follow recipes and helpful color photos for this fresh, subtle cuisine, in a large-format book. Carmack is an American-born food writer who lives in Australia; French-born Corlou and Van, a Vietnamese native, are high-level chefs in Hanoi.
"The Chinese Chicken Cookbook" by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo (Simon & Schuster, 2004, $24) offers 100 easy, authentic recipes for American cooks. This is the ninth cookbook this distinguished authority on Chinese cooking has written, this time about a food, the chicken, that's central to the cuisine. Lo, who was born in Canton, China, lives in New Jersey.
"D.K.'s Sushi Chronicles From Hawaii" by Dave "D.K." Kodama (Ten Speed Press, 2004, $35) features 125 recipes from the Hawaiian-born Kodama's successful Sansei Seafood Restaurant and Sushi Bar, in Honolulu, and its two branches on Maui. The innovative recipes include much more than sushi, and the book is illustrated with scene-setting color photographs.
"New Wave Luau" by Alan Wong (Ten Speed Press, 2003, $21.95 paperback) is a new edition of a 1999 original written by the James Beard award-winning chef-owner of Alan Wong's Restaurant in Honolulu. His food blends Eastern, Western and local traditions; the book's artwork mixes period and contemporary photos.
If you can't decide in which individual country to alight, consider ways to sample something drawing from more than one tradition:
"Simply Ming" by Ming Tsai and Arthur Boehm (Potter, 2003, $32.50) promises "easy techniques for East-meets-West meals." Ming is the popular food-television personality and chef-owner of Blue Ginger restaurant, in Wellesley, Mass. He and New York City-based food writer Boehm have put together a collection of recipes and guidelines for cooking up lively meals blending East-West influences and flavors.
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