Synopses & Reviews
In Thailand, food is about nourishment, enjoyment, and the interplay of flavors, but it's also about healing and wellness. The Thai philosophy is based on the notion that each of us is born under a "home element"Earth, Water, Wind, or Firewhich is also present in our physical bodies. By eating to satisfy your home element, in combination with the time of day and the weather, you create your own optimal health, beauty, and spiritual well-being.
Su-Mei Yu, born in Thailand to Chinese parents, grew up amid these ancient beliefs, though her own family's approach was slightly different. She moved to America as a teenager and eventually opened San Diego's first Thai restaurant. On one of her annual trips back to Thailand, Yu encountered a folk doctor who determined her home element as Water. With uncanny accuracy, he announced that she thrived in warm, dry climates, and that she preferred sour, bland, and bitter flavors. Intrigued, Yu researched the philosophy behind the home elements, and in The Elements of Life, she brings it to Western home cooks for the first time.
In the first chapter, Yu helps you determine your own home element, using a special wheel affixed to the inside back cover of the book. Then she guides you to a basic understanding of how to plan meals around your home element in conjunction with the weather and the time of day. From there, she moves into the recipesglorious, richly flavorful recipes that fuse Western influences and Thai traditions.
The Basics chapter offers foundations you'll use across all the elements, including recipes for breakfast (Applesauce Pancakes), lunch (Tom Ka, a coconut cream soup), and dinner (Panang Curry). Here you'll find drinks, salad dressings, stir-fries, soups, curries, and much more.
Next, Yu devotes a chapter to each element. She identifies the personal characteristics related to that home element and the tastes, flavors, and aromas best suited to it, with a chart of natural ingredients that possess those qualities. Then come the recipes, meant to balance the element, time of day, and type of weather. Cold Soba Noodles, Grilled Shrimp and Mango Salad, Persian-Thai Fried Rice, and Stir-Fried Chicken or Pork with Watermelon Rindeach offers benefits for one or more elements. Every chapter ends with recipes for natural beauty treatments, massage oils, and healing balms.
With a wealth of simple, inspiring recipes and straightforward, easy-to-follow advice, The Elements of Life will help you follow a traditional, natural, and remarkably effective path to health, beauty, longevity, and inner peace.
"Yu, author of Cracking the Coconut and chef/owner of the San Diego restaurant Saffron, explores the Thai approach to food and wellness in this unique and illuminating collection. Based on the belief that fresh, locally grown vegetables are natural remedies essential to maintaining good health), the book details the four elements of life: earth, wind, water and fire. To be healthy, all of our bodies' elements must be in harmony, which occurs through a diet that combines the most beneficial tastes, flavors and aromas of our element and allows for varying factors such as time of day and weather. Recipes help achieve this balance and are grouped together by element. Yu provides a wide array of options for each meal, including stir-fried shrimp with asparagus; cool rice vermicelli with grilled vegetables; noodles with Chinese broccoli and pork or chicken; and mango sorbet with young coconut ribbons. Headnotes list the ailments each dish will improve. Yu also includes recipes for facial masks, massage oils and sachets that calm the mind and the senses. An informative and appetizing look at Thai tradition and its relation to food, this book offers a new perspective on healthy eating." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Thai natural philosophy is based on the principle that nature consists of four elements -- Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire -- which are also present in our physical bodies. It is believed that each of us is born with a dominant, or home element, and that the path to general wellness requires a knowledge of one's home element in order to achieve harmony with nature. In The Elements of Life, award-winning cookbook author Su-Mei Yu translates this concept for a Western audience, and shows how these Asian principles can be used in readers' daily lives to achieve greater health, beauty, longevity, and spiritual wellness. The book is accompanied by an interactive wheel that allows readers to quickly identify their own home elements. Individual chapters focusing on each of the four elements provide advice on planning meals around one's own dominant element in conjunction with the weather and the time of day. An Earth-element person, for example, is advised to eat sweet and salty flavors during rainy weather, and dishes with buttery, rich, sweet flavors when it is cold outside. Yu provides plenty of tempting recipes for every home element, season, and time of day, such as Cold Soba Noodles, Grilled Shrimp and Mango Salad, Persian-Thai Fried Rice, and Stir-Fried Chicken or Pork with Watermelon Rind. Each chapter also includes sections on beauty and mind and spirit, with recipes for restorative face masks, hair treatments, and massage oils based on each home element. The book's lush, evocative design features 110 full-color photographs throughout, including mouth-watering food photographs of finished dishes and beautiful travel photos from Thailand showcasing traditional ingredients, food vendors, and much more. With a wealth of simple, inspiring recipes and straightforward, easy-to-follow advice, The Elements of Life will inspire readers to live according to the elements and to follow a traditional path to health, beauty, longevity, and inner peace.
Discover the Thai approach to food and wellness-and use nature's elements to eat for optimum health, beauty, and spiritual well-being
The traditional Thai philosophy of diet and health involves eating meals planned around your "home element"-earth, water, wind, or fire-as well as the weather, time of day, and other factors. In this book, award-winning author Su-Mei Yu explains this age-old philosophy and gives you information and recipes to help you prepare meals that will promote better physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
She describes the personal characteristics related to the each of the four home elements, as well as the tastes, flavors, aromas, and natural ingredients best suited to them. She shows you how to identify your home element and eat foods that accommodate it through different times of the year and different times of the day. Beauty treatments geared to your home element will help you to relax, rejuvenate, and feel renewed.
This beautifully designed book
- Includes an interactive wheel that helps you calculate your elemental sign
- Explains how to plan meals appropriate to your home element
- Offers tempting recipes for every home element, season, and time of day
- Shares dishes with a delicious variety of ingredients and flavors, from Cold Soba Noodles to Stir-Fried Chicken or Port with Watermelon Rind
- Contains beauty, mind, and spirit sections with recipes for face masks, hair treatments, and massage oils based on each home element
- Features more than 120 full-color photographs of finished dishes and life in Thailand
Written by the IACP Award-winning author of Cracking the Coconut and Asian Grilling,the simple, inspiring recipes and straightforward, easy-to-follow advice found in The Elements of Life will inspire you to live according to the elements and follow a traditional path to health, beauty, longevity, and inner peace.
Earth, Water, Wind, Fire:
A Revolutionary Way to Use the Ancient Wisdom of Thai Philosophy in Your Kitchen, Your Home, Your Life "Discovering your home element will allow you to use your diet to achieve harmony with nature. With the information you gain by knowing your home element, you can adjust your menus in response to the weather, the season, the time of day, or how you feel for optimum health and emotional well-being. "Your home element has a spiritual dimension as well. To discover its presence is to discover your true self. To know your home element is to know your inner voice. This light of wisdom illuminates your way as you journey through life. Its sustaining energy provides you with a sense of direction and fortifies you against life's problems. When you follow the path of your home
element and listen to your inner voice, you will be rewarded with a life of well-being and a state of physical and spiritual harmony that is called suk sabai: contentment, clarity, and happiness."
"The Elements of Life offers a large vision of how a culture can integrate well-being, beauty, and superb taste into one's daily meals. Food as healing goes far beyond the dry, functional approach we're more accustomed to. This is a gorgeous, inspiring, and promising book."
Deborah Madison, author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and What We Eat When We Eat Alone?
"The Elements of Life is more than a cookbook. It is at once scholarly, yet accessible, and groundbreaking in its recipes and intriguing stories about the Thai traditions of healing. Su-Mei Yu nourishes our bodies and spirit with her wisdom."
Grace Young, author of The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen
"Imagine the greatest collection of mouthwatering recipes in one book. This is it. Su-Mei Yu is a miracle worker, and the ancient health wisdom she shares can and will change the way you eat forever."
Deborah Szekely, founder of Rancho La Puerta and Golden Door "
A welcome and thoughtful introduction to the traditional Thai approach to food and health. Among the recipes, some traditional and others created by Su-Mei to suit North American kitchens and
palates, there are dishes to suit all temperaments in all seasons."
Naomi Duguid, coauthor, with Jeffrey Alford, of Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia and Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China
About the Author
Su-Mei Yu was born in Thailand to Chinese parents and lived there until she was fifteen, when she was sent to boarding school in the United States. After stints as a social worker and an assistant professor, in 1985 she opened Saffron, the first Thai restaurant in San Diego, which has received national acclaim. Yu writes frequently for food magazines including Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, and Gastronomica. Also the author of Asian Grilling and the IACP Award-winning cookbook Cracking the Coconut, she lives in La Jolla, California.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire: Finding Your Home Element.
Chapter 2: Basics.
Chapter 3: Earth.
Chapter 4: Water.
Chapter 5: Wind.
Chapter 6: Fire.