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 Fire-which 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 recipes-glorious, 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 Rind-each 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.
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