cornFusion thinks it’s inappropriate to compare Burmese food to other Asian cuisines. Burmese is not some offshoot of Thai or Chinese or Indian cooking. It’s a cuisine in its own right, which evolved out of the wildly pluralist society that is Burma. (The original name of the country was pyi htaung zu bama naingan daw, which translates as “one thousand countries united into a royal Burma.”)
As with wine, the aromas of Burmese cooking are as important as the flavors. Characteristic aromas include forest earth, sea, sour olives, and musk, while the tastes may include bitter, sour, spicy, salty, sweet, unctuous, bland, and peppery. Some critics find Burmese food to be insufficiently complex; cornFusion thinks that this attitude stems from the Western practice of shoveling food into one’s mouth as quickly as possible, without really savoring each bite. In Burmese culture, there is a tradition of slow eating as well as slow cooking. The complete development of the flavor of tea leaf salad, for instance, may not truly be appreciated unless one chews each bite for much longer than is customary in the West. And some foods reveal themselves only when allowed to melt in the mouth—chewing would be rushing things.