On Saturday, I attended the launch of a new book on Vietnamese cuisine. 'Koto: A Culinary Journey through Vietnam' is a visually spectacular look at the food scene up and down the length of the country, researched and written over a period of five years.
The co-authors of the book, Tracey Lister and Andreas Pohl, were initially inspired by their experiences living in Hanoi earlier this decade. Tracey, a chef by profession, has had a long association with Hanoi's renowned Koto ('Know One, Teach One') Restaurant, a not for profit organization which provides hospitality training to disadvantaged youths. Accompanied by her husband Andreas, they embarked on several trips around Vietnam to meet local food identities and sample the specialties of each region.
And that is how the book is arranged, with each section featuring the cuisine of a local area through the experience of a guest chef, whether they be a local vendor, home cook or professional chef. So, apart from recipes, the book is very much about the people and the produce behind the creation of the food.