Best food blog written by a linguist | Best of Chicago 2011 | Food & Drink | Chicago Reader

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Best food blog written by a linguist

Literate, funny, beautifully photographed SheSimmers by Bangkok-born Leela Punyaratabandhu is the most authoritative and engaging English online resource on one of Asia's most popular but misunderstood cuisines. A former scholar of ancient Thai texts, Punyaratabandhu, who divides most of her time between Chicago and her hometown, deftly employs the key aspects of memorable food writing—memory, history, cultural identity, technique, humor. Her interviews with foremost Thai chefs and food writers illustrate thorny philosophical debates on authenticity and innovation that would otherwise be lost on most Westerners. And her explorations of individual dishes—though not strictly limited to Thai—are at once meticulous and encouraging, giving her readers permission to use canned curries or to make papaya salad without a mortar and pestle as long as the other real fundamentals are adhered to. Her series on pad thai, a dish she maintains is nearly impossible to prepare correctly in the home, is not so much a discouragement as an invitation—as long as you promise to do it in a cast iron pan. —Mike Sula

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(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)