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Riding Mekong river with couple of cooks

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Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford are the kind of couple that movies are made about. They met while bicycling across the Himalayas and combine pleasure with business by writing award-winning amalgams of travelogues and cookbooks, full of atmospheric photos and mouth-watering recipes.

Their latest, "Hot Sour Salty Sweet" (Artisan; $45) has the couple following the Mekong River south, as it flows from Tibet through Burma, Laos and Cambodia, ending at the South China Sea in Vietnam. From "Market Noodles" (street food that puts our restaurants to shame) to Laotian hot chili turkey (yes, turkeys in Southeast Asia) to Chinese beef stew spiced with anise, the recipes are varied and exotic. The authors describe an eggplant and a Buddhist temple with identical reverence, and Duguid's camera captures images that will inspire hunger and wanderlust in equal measure.


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