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Serving and Eating a Burmese Meal

Serving and Eating a Burmese Meal

The foundation of a Burmese food is, as anywhere else in Asia, a meal of flawlessly prepared, steaming hot and fluffy rice. This is delivered to the dinner table right before or after guests are seated in order that it will be hot. The soup also is usually steaming hot, but for the rest, the dishes are positioned on the table in advance and most of the accompaniments are usually offered at room temperature.

A table set for a meal is a vibrant sight. Browns, greens, reds and yellows feature in curries, veggies and accompaniments. The different dishes served should complement or contrast. Simple soups with rich, as well as oily curries or perhaps stronger soups with moderate dishes. There will most likely alwaysbe one chili condiment, one raw salad of leaves, fruit or vegetables, one soup, one, 2 or 3curries of meat, fish, shrimps or eggs. Perhaps a bowl of lentils, a home-made pickle, and more often than notthat Burmese favorite balachung. There is absolutely noset rule regardingwhich dishes ought to beserved together, so a limitless number of combinations may be possible.

The table is set with plates for the rice, bowls and porcelain spoons for soup. It is customary to enjoya Burmese meal using thefingers, but nowadays dessertspoons and forks will also beused. There are a few Burmese meals, though, that really must be eaten using thefingers like lethoke dish. In this instancea bowl of warm water, soupand also atowel are put on a side table for hand washing before one is seated.

When one does start, it is courteous to begin with small portions. Little rice initially, then one small helping from one of the dishes to be mixed with the rice and tasted, after that something from another dish, and so forth. Once all the dishes are already sampled, the choice is made whether to stay with a particular dish or to mix different tastes. Second or third helpings of rice are offered. It is quite in order to ask for a dish which is not even considered. Spoonfuls of soup are taken between mouthfuls of rice and curries.

After the meal, the hands are washed again. In Burma, warm water, soap and towels are brought around by a servant. Fresh fruit or a cooling sweet and cups of steaming hot tea follow.

There are specific Burmese meals where a one-dish specialty is included, for instance moh hin gha, kaukswe, kyazan or htamin lethoke. They are do-it-yourself specials where rice or noodles is dished up with a myriad flavorsome accompaniments and you make your own masterpiece.

Whenever you sit down to this kind of meal, there's no assurance that your food will taste just like the next person's. Actually, it's extremely unlikely. You will help yourself from the same dishes, but from there on, it becomes a no-holds-barred improvisation.

Do you want a lightseasoned meal? Or one so hot it brings tears to your eyes? Is it pungent herbs and garlic that send you on a taste trip? With a Burmese meal of this sort, you'll please yourself. Add a little of this, a lot of that. There will be chopped fresh coriander leaf, garlic slices fried crisp and golden, piquant tamarind liquid, hot chili powder or fried whole chilies, brilliant red chili oil, rich brown fried onions, sliced spring onions and nutty-flavored roasted chick-pea powder. Depending on the proportions in which you add these, you'll create a taste sensation made to order - just as you like it.

These are fun meals. If you feel you need help, it is considered quite the thing to do as to ask someone if you can taste their meal or ask them to taste yours and advise on what is needed, or even to mix your portion for you....all delightfully informal.

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