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Food and Beverage 2013

Food and Beverage 2013

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Published by The Myanmar Times

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Published by: The Myanmar Times on Jul 08, 2013
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11/06/2013

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T
HESE days the variety o ood available inMyanmar is greaterthan ever. Americanruits, Australian vegetables,European meat and dairy products, Italian pastas andsauces – you can ind them allon the shelves o Myanmar’ssupermarkets, with new oodsand ingredients arriving every  week. Meanwhile restaurantsand eateries are popping upeverywhere, oering cuisinerom all around the world.Even coee culture is being cultivated, with modern caésinding homes next door toour traditional teashops. Theseood trends are exciting andoverwhelming.Perhaps not surprisingly then, more and more Myanmaramilies are choosing tocook international and Asianusion dishes at home. They’re watching cooking shows ontelevision and reading oodmagazines. With gadgets andother tools o the modernkitchen more easily accessible,experiments are more easily made. Add social media andthe internet to the mix andthe possibilities or cuisine arepositively dynamic. Among all the exciting new oods, however, I havealso noticed a large volumeo processed and preservedoods on the supermarketshelves. Awareness in Myanmaro the impact o sugar, salt,preservatives and oodenhancers is still limited andeducation about their dangers– while growing – is not nearly  widespread enough.For healthy liestyles andnutritious diets, we need tochoose ood wisely. Consumersshould read the product labelsand check the percentages o unhealthy ingredients. Theollowing are some tips orhappier and healthier eating.
Preserved foods and ready-mixed sauces
Packaged oods contain highlevels o salt to allow a longershel lie. To dilute the resulting salty taste, extra sugar is added. While salt and sugar cancreate tasty lavours, excessconsumption is unhealthy. Onesimple way to cut the amounto salt and sugar in your diet isto cook sauces at home insteado buying ready-mades. Basictomato sauces can be preparedin hal an hour and are very easy to make. I you make extra andreeze it or later, you’ll end upsaving money too.
MSG overdose
 When I lived in Australia, Icontinued cooking lots o Myanmar, Shan and Rakhineoods. Oten, however, I had tosubstitute ingredients, using thebest o whatever was available. By the time I returned to Myanmarlast year, I was craving authenticcuisine. I’d even made a long listo things I wanted to eat.In Yangon, my husband andI visited many restaurants,eateries and street stalls,however we noticed that theood tasted overly sweet. Worse, we oten didn’t eel wellaterwards. It was then that westarted to learn about the highmonosodium glutamate (MSG)content in some o the oods we were eating. My body used totolerate the lavour-enhancing ood additive. My mother wouldoten add a pinch or two o MSGto curries or soups. Ater weound out that MSG is bad or you, my mum stopped using it. However because I loveeating out, I ended up eating itrom time to time. These days,however, my body can’t tolerateMSG so I always ask or it not tobe added to my ood.In Myanmar cuisine, MSG isused in almost every dish. Parto the reason or this overuseis that MSG is addictive. Onceconsumers in Myanmar grew used to having MSG, they oundthey couldn’t live without itand ended up adding moreand more to everything. In my experience, however, a wholeteaspoon o MSG in a singleserving o salad is over the top.I you insist on adding MSG,stick to just a pinch in a recipeo ive or six servings. Some o the side eects caused by MSGinclude headaches, nausea,dizziness, a rapid or irregularheartbeat, a skin rash andringing ears. I anyone in youramily is suering such sideeects, you should stop using MSG altogether – some are moresensitive to it than others.
Chicken powder
 While trying to avoid MSG, somepeople use chicken powder asan alternative – but that’s notalways sae either. Chickenpowder is a beautiul productor ches and cooks looking to create extra lavour, but it’simportant to choose a brand with neither MSG nor sugar init. I you do choose one withsugar, there’s absolutely no needto add more sugar separately to your curries or salad.
Tradition and modernity 
Traditional Myanmar oodshave long histories, with recipesbeing passed down rom onegeneration to the next. Forcenturies we didn’t use MSGin our oods. We were happy  with the real, natural tasteso our vegetables and meats.Once MSG was introduced inMyanmar, however, we tried tomodiy our traditional recipes:Then we all became addicted.This is a public health problemthat must be addressed.
Editors:
Myo Lwin, Jessica Mudditt
Photographers:
Kaung Htet, Boothee, Thiri Lu, Ko Taik, DouglasLong, Aye Zaw Myo, Yadanar, Boothee, JessicaMudditt, Aung Htay Hlaing
Writers:
Phyo Arbidans, Nathalie Johnston, Zon PannPwint, Jessica Mudditt, Aung Shin, Aung YeThwin, Wade Guyitt, Douglas Long, Aung KyawNyunt, Myat Nyein Aye, Kyaw Zin Hlaing
Cover illustration:
Thein Tun Oo
Cover & Layout Design:
Tin Zaw Htway, Ko Pxyo, Khin ZawFor enquiries and feedback:myolwin@myanmartimes.com.mmjess.mudditt@gmail.com
A Myanmar TimesSpecial Report
FOOD AND BEVERAGE-2013
PHYOARBIDANS
phyocooking@gmail.com
Processthis
The Myanmar Times’
resident che has noticed an increasing amount o processed oodshitting the supermarket shelves and hascome up with a ew strategies to avoid excessconsumption
The harmful side effects of MSG are little known in Myanmar.
Photo: Aye Zaw Myo
Once consumers in Myanmar grew used to having MSG, they  found they couldn’t live without it and ended up adding moreand more to everything.
 
3
 W 
HAT qualiesme to talk beer? Three years agoI helped start GreatLeap Brewing in Beijing – the city’s rst majormicrobrewery. For two years, I talked nothing butmicrobrew and travelled toevery bar in the city withan international tap tosell the beauty and beneto tasty, strong ale withChinese characteristics.To date, Great Leap’s mostpopular beers are theHoney Ma Gold (inused with Sichuan pepperand Shandong honey)and the Iron BuddhaBlonde, a strong, blondeale favoured with oneo China’s most amousgreen teas. Great Leap’slasting appeal lies in itsresh ingredients and lack o preservatives, allowing or a mostly hangover-reeexperience – unless youdrink more than six, in which case, you’ve had toomany.
 While travelling, I alwayslook for the best local brew. I’m not talking abouta standard lager such asTiger, which in my opinion
is a gloried carbonated
 water, but a beer withstrong characteristics: the
rst taste and aftertaste,consistency, avours and,
of course, alcohol content.
 When I had my rst sip of 
 beer in Myanmar, I wasn’tdisappointed.The history of alcoholconsumption in Myanmarprobably dates back as faras the history of Myanmaritself, with deliciouspalm wine (or “Burmese beer” as my local friendaffectionately calls it) andits distilled cousin, arak.Modern-day beer, however,has a much shorter history,attributed to British and
Indian inuences. When
the Raj arrived in India,they brought their brewingtechniques and ales fromthe UK. By over-hoppingtheir ales, they preservedthe beer for the long journey overseas, and sothe deliciously bitter IPA or India Pale Ale was born.Later, when the Britishannexed Burma, they introduced breweries toserve their unquenchablethirst for ale.Today Myanmar has afew major labels, namely Myanmar Beer and ABCStout, Dagon, Mandalay and Andaman, all fully or partially state-owned.How do they measure upto international brandslike Heineken and Corona,or more regional brandslike Beerlao and Singha?I convinced a few friendsto help me put Myanmar beers to the test alongsideother regional andinternational favoritesfor comparison. Ratings(out of 10) are basedupon the aforementionedinitial taste, aftertaste,
consistency, avour and
 ABV (alcohol by volume)percentage.There was somediscussion about whetheror not to include famousmicrobrew/ale brandslike Brewdog, Fuller orDelirium Tremens (justto name a few). In theend, it seemed cruel tointroduce the complexities
and artisanal avours of 
 brands mostly unavailablein the country, let alone theregion, not to mention thefact that international lagers(in our humble opinion)stand little chance againstBelgian tripels, EnglishIPAs, German pilsners andimperial stouts. Therefore we stuck to national, big- brewery brands to see how they measured up to thetaste buds of a few seasoneddrinkers.Every country has itspoints of pride and itslow-rung, bottom-shelf  beers, and Myanmar isno exception. Some beersare the real deal whileothers will never make themark of an international-standard. Our internationalpicks are now available worldwide and in somecases (Heineken) have been in the business long before Asian breweriescame on the scene. Yetlocal Myanmar breweriesdistinguish themselves with particularly strong, bitter aftertastes, highalcohol content andreasonable prices. Thegreat diversity of rum, whisky and gin labels arealso not to be ignored– Myanmar distillerieshave been carrying on adrinking tradition for overa century – but our adviceis to skip the liquor and buy a Myanmar brand beer. Prices are low,chances of having a goodtime are high, and whenin Myanmar, drink as thelocals drink.
To drink or not to drink 
The co-ounder o Great Leap Brewing roadtests local beers to determine howthey stand up to the pricier imported varieties
International BrandsABVDescriptionRatingWhos Drinking?
Singha (Thailand)5pcSweet, light, drinkable evenwhen warm8Beachcombers,morning-ater drinkersBeerlao (Laos)5pcRice and malt makes or anhonest brew8Asian-beer lovers, socialistsand backpackersCorona (Mexico)4.6pcSweet, spiced with a hint obitters6Lightweights, beach bums,tequila addictsHeineken (Netherlands)5pcEarthy, blunt, old-school7Traditionalists,cold beer hardliners, oldiesSapporo (Japan)5pcSharp and serious7Suits and sushi lovers
Myanmar BrandsABVDescriptionRatingWhos Drinking?
Myanmar Lager Beer5pcHeavy (or a lager), slightmalt, plenty o zz7Everyone and anyoneMyanmar DoubleStrong7.7pcHints o Grand Royal whiskyand prune juice atertaste2Rockers, drunken teenagersand one-stop shoppersMandalay Strong Ale7pcClosest thing to a real ale,yeast, malt and smooth nish8Beer snobs, ale drinkers,anyone on a budgetABC Extra Stout8pcCoee bitters, almost a blackIPA, great with ood8Dark beer lovers, Guinnessenthusiasts, boys and girls look-ing to prove their worthAndaman Gold6.5pcSweet, strong and average5Party hosts and day drinkersDagon Extra Strong8pcLighter alternative to ABC,with subtle favours6Lager-haters, partygoers,KTV singers
Some local beers are the real deal.
Photo: Yadanar
NATHALIEJOHNSTON
nathalie.johnston@gmail.com

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