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Chris Amirault

David Thompson's Thai Street Food is Out!

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My heart is racing.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, David Thompson's Thai Food is one of the most important cookbooks I own. Just yesterday I spent an hour or so drawn back into it, pouring over the recipes and descriptions while preparing a beef penang recipe. So I got very excited to read that his Thai Street Food came out yesterday.

You can learn more about it in this Gourmet Traveller interview. You can't, however, buy it on Amazon or anywhere else north of Australia, as far as I can detect.

I'm dying to know what's in it, how to get it, and what people think. Anyone Down Under got a copy?

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Chris: the page you linked to says it comes out next Monday. I'm not sure if there's conflicting info somewhere else...

That said, this better come out in the U.S., like, now.

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HungryC   

I am waiting, eagerly, for a US release....I hope it's as detailed & comprehensive as the first book!

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mattsea   

There was an interview with Thompson in the Weekend Australian magazine (a liftout in a national broadsheet newspaper) on the weekend in which he slagged off el Bulli in particular and molecular gastronomy in general. Unfortunately it doesn't appear to be online.

You can buy the book here but it's not cheap.

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nickrey   

When I was at the Sydney International Food Festival Chef's Showcase on 10-11 November, they had managed to secure a number of copies, which sold out pretty quickly. As David was there to sign them, some people received an added bonus.

The booksellers said it was due to be released publicly in a few weeks. The publishers website says 26th October.

From memory (I didn't buy a copy), it is a larger format hardcover with a recommended retail price of A$100. As we are rapidly moving towards parity with the US dollar, you could read that as US$100, plus postage.

It is published by Penguin Australia (see this link).

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$100? EEEK!

Are most cookbooks in Australia quite expensive? That's more than the price of all but the super fanciest coffee-table picture books with recipes here in the US....

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I hope the price comes down, but this book is definitely on my list. Thanks for linking the interview, which was very funny. I appreciate Mr. Thompson's rare combination of obsessiveness and humor.

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nickrey   

$100? EEEK!

Are most cookbooks in Australia quite expensive? That's more than the price of all but the super fanciest coffee-table picture books with recipes here in the US....

Cookbooks are quite expensive here but when I said "large format" I meant something to the effect of "fancy coffee-table picture book." You wouldn't have this one in your kitchen slopping fish sauce over it.

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I hope the price comes down, but this book is definitely on my list. Thanks for linking the interview, which was very funny. I appreciate Mr. Thompson's rare combination of obsessiveness and humor.

Obsessiveness and humor: I think he'd fit in well around here...

Cookbooks are quite expensive here but when I said "large format" I meant something to the effect of "fancy coffee-table picture book." You wouldn't have this one in your kitchen slopping fish sauce over it.

Oh yes I would.

From the "look inside," it seems the index starts at page 368. So it's about 375-80 pages?

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mattsea   

Apparently it's A3 size, which is pretty big (11 x 17 inches). It's 374 pages.

The cheapest price does appear to be Fishpond, as I linked earlier in the thread.

You can use this search engine to establish the cheapest price. I don't know what will be the cheapest when you take into account shipping to the US.

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When I talked with David in Bangkok the other week, he was looking for the Australian release around, well, now. The anti-antipodean release isn't scheduled until early next year, however, which means that I won't be able to pick up a copy on this trip out.

From what he's said, it'll be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it.

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Apparently it's A3 size, which is pretty big (11 x 17 inches). It's 374 pages.

I looked at a copy I found at Borders Carlton (Melbourne, Australia), and it certainly is a physically large book.

On first impressions, I thought, "Wow! This is amazing." It is a stunning looking production. But browsing through it, I found it to be disappointing, especially at the price. There seemed to be a lot of filler in terms of photographs of Thai street markets, and as for the recipes, many of them looked similar to those that can be found in his (brilliant and essential imho) book, "Thai Food". There was even a chapter on "Chinatown", and the recipes in there are ones that you'll find in many other books.

Keep in mind, this is just a first impression from me. I would recommend anyone thinking of buying the book (especially online) should check it out first before committing to a purchase.

If the book was in a smaller format and at a cheaper price, then I think it would be better value.

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mattsea   

If the book was in a smaller format and at a cheaper price, then I think it would be better value.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a paperback or otherwise slimmed-down edition in a year or so, just like the Fat Duck cookbook.

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nickrey   

Apparently it's A3 size, which is pretty big (11 x 17 inches). It's 374 pages.

I looked at a copy I found at Borders Carlton (Melbourne, Australia), and it certainly is a physically large book.

On first impressions, I thought, "Wow! This is amazing." It is a stunning looking production. But browsing through it, I found it to be disappointing, especially at the price. There seemed to be a lot of filler in terms of photographs of Thai street markets, and as for the recipes, many of them looked similar to those that can be found in his (brilliant and essential imho) book, "Thai Food". There was even a chapter on "Chinatown", and the recipes in there are ones that you'll find in many other books.

Keep in mind, this is just a first impression from me. I would recommend anyone thinking of buying the book (especially online) should check it out first before committing to a purchase.

If the book was in a smaller format and at a cheaper price, then I think it would be better value.

My first impression was much the same, that's why I didn't buy it when I saw it a few weeks ago.

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OliverB   

does Amazon Australia not ship world wide? I've ordered from Amazon in Germany several times, don't even have to create a new account, has all my info available.

Does Australia have price protection on books? In Germany you are not allowed to sell a book below cover price (except books not published in Germany) which makes Amazon more a matter of convenience (not having to go to the store).

I love Thai food, I'm gonna have to check out that book!

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mattsea   

Unfortunately there is no Amazon Australia. We buy things from Amazon UK and US, or from domestic sellers such as fishpond.com.au.

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johung   

I second some comments here. It's more a travelogue/food p0rn rather than a genuine recipe book. Some dishes (such as kanom sai sai, guay jap) are unique to this book and definitely the first time I see written down and published in English anywhere in the world, but the number of recipes are disappointing low. Most are photos of various street food and the marketplace and the people.

I feel cheated after begging the staff at Borders Christchurch to allow me to have a peep at the book, 1 day before its official release date. It is definitely not worth the NZ$125.00 price tag. A disappointment I'm afraid.

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nickrey   

I spotted another copy on Saturday. Just to be sure, I had another look at it and my opinion is still the same. I agree with johung; it is food porn with lovely pictures rather than a recipe book that would interest most here.

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Like Nickrey, I've also had a second look at the book.

I doubt that I'd buy it even if it was in a paperback version.

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I'm really surprised at all the negative reactions. David Thompson seems like the last person to put style over substance. I'm really curious about this now...

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I'm really surprised at all the negative reactions. David Thompson seems like the last person to put style over substance. I'm really curious about this now...

I don't know if I'd say that. I've heard enough about his restaurant in London to make me think style is just as if not more important.

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mattsea   

I'm really surprised at all the negative reactions. David Thompson seems like the last person to put style over substance. I'm really curious about this now...

I don't know if I'd say that. I've heard enough about his restaurant in London to make me think style is just as if not more important.

I believe Thompson now merely 'consults' to Nahm, so it's not quite 'his' restaurant in the same sense that it used to be.

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I'm really surprised at all the negative reactions. David Thompson seems like the last person to put style over substance. I'm really curious about this now...

I don't know if I'd say that. I've heard enough about his restaurant in London to make me think style is just as if not more important.

I believe Thompson now merely 'consults' to Nahm, so it's not quite 'his' restaurant in the same sense that it used to be.

Nahm opened in 2001. I don't know when he became a "consultant", but this review was written in 2003. I doubt it was that soon after opening.

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To be more precise, and prevent my innocuous posts from being unnecessarily dissected, I will try this again. What I meant was: based on my relevant experience with Thompson's Thai Food, I am surprised that his book would fail to be substantively valuable. Thai Food is the most used book in my kitchen, and the effort and research obviously put into it leads me to believe that Thompson would not trend toward style over substance. I, having never been to Nahm, know next to nothing about his involvement or how that relates to his general attitudes toward style or substance. My post merely reflects my personal feeling of surprise at this reaction to his new book. I apologize for apparently conveying the belief that I was well-enough versed in all aspects of Thompson personal and professional endeavors to have an opinion on this matter.

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I agree completely with Mike:

Based on my relevant experience with Thompson's Thai Food, I am surprised that his book would fail to be substantively valuable. Thai Food is the most used book in my kitchen, and the effort and research obviously put into it leads me to believe that Thompson would not trend toward style over substance.

There are plenty of chefs who run high-quality restaurants and turn out coffee-table clunkers, and perhaps Thompson is someone who has a snazzy, unserious restaurant but managed to write one of the handful of essential cookbooks published in the last decade. Doesn't matter a bit to me: Thai Food set such a high bar because of Thompson's commitment to treating Thai food with the seriousness it deserves, and it'd be disappointing if this book doesn't approach that very high bar.

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