Cookbook Announcement: Guest Post by the Zealous Water Buffalo

This is a guest post by the Zealous Water Buffalo, author of The Zealous Water Buffalo who updates her blog very irregularly (i.e. whenever she feels like it). She knows me like I know myself and vice versa. So, I thought, who better to make the announcement I’ve been wanting to make for sometime now?

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present to you the Zealous Water Buffalo, my sometimes-annoying quadruped alter ego. ~Leela


I’m writing a cookbook,” Leela says in response to my inquiry on what she’s been up to lately. We’re sitting at the coffee shop inside the quaint Neilson Hays Library in midtown Bangkok, catching up on what’s been happening. Leela does her writing here whenever she’s in town, and I, of course, always tag along.

She tells me about how the idea of writing a cookbook was ever present in the back of her mind but never became solidly formed. Some publishers reached out to her, but since the idea was still so vague, she remained indecisive. Then Ten Speed Press came along at the time when she finally figured out what the book was going to be. And things fell into place. Fast.

It’s going to be a book on Thai cooking,” she adds while ferociously attacking her Ploughman’s Lunch as if cheese eating would be outlawed, like, tomorrow. “What do you think, Buff?

What do I think? I’m thinking you’re chewing a lot for a monogastric. But don’t let me interupt.

That’s exciting!” I exclaim. I mean it. I never exclaim disingenuously.

She stops chewing and stares at me for a few seconds in half skepticism and half curiosity as if waiting for something to happen.

But don’t your muscles freeze and you, like, fall to one side or something when you’re excited?” she asks. I let out a sigh, coming this close to giving her my front right middle hoof. Apparently, somebody has confused a water buffalo with a myotonic goat. Thank goodness she’s writing a book about cooking, not zoology.

A very basic Ploughman’s Lunch, Neilson Hays Library Café

But you have a blog,” I say. “Why a book?

Well, they have tractors for rice farming, why a water buffalo?


Actually, the logic is questionable, but I get her point. There’s the cute factor. Plus, you can’t get milk out of a tractor to make mozzarella. I mean, when’s the last time you see a John Deere with an udder? Wait – is that what she meant? Never mind.

I firmly believe that books will not be obsolete any time soon,” she’s dipping a piece of apple into the chutney. Odd combination, if you ask me. “Sure you can get recipes online these days, but there’s nothing like a book that you can cuddle with near a fireplace, flipping through the pages, savoring the words and the photos …,” she stops to chew again.

So this book will be, like, what —  a bunch of recipes for your favorite Thai dishes?” is my question. Yup, she says — but not just “a bunch of recipes” that have been chosen haphazardly, however.

Having lived as an expat in the United States for a long time – as a poor and hungry student for a good part of it – she has learned not to let the scarcity and prices of fresh Thai ingredients stop her from creating her favorite Thai dishes as she remembers them growing up.

The book, scheduled for release in early 2014, aims to serve as a go-to collection of internationally known Thai dishes. In other words, name a dish that you always order every time you visit a Thai restaurant overseas, whether it’s two blocks away from your apartment or in another city where your in-laws live, and it’s likely that there’ll be a recipe for that dish in this book.

The majority of the recipes in the book are recipes which I’ve never published on the blog and only a handful of them are variations of the ones which the readers have seen before,” she adds.

Not a rehash of the blog, in other words. Gotcha.

Are you having fun writing this book?” I ask, though I already know the answer. This woman loves writing as much as I love taking a mud bath and chewing on a cud on a sunny day.

Predictably, she nods. The way she grins from ear to ear is telling me there’s nothing else she’d rather do.

Last question,” I know I risk ruining a beautiful moment, but I can’t help it. “Will there be ruminant-friendly recipes in your book?

Leela looks away, pretending not to hear. She’s mumbling under her breath about how in the old days they used to make glue out of buffalo hide to use in manuscript paintings in some country – or something.

I think that pretty much concludes our conversation.

38 Responses to Cookbook Announcement: Guest Post by the Zealous Water Buffalo

  1. Rick October 11, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Sign me up girl!

  2. Bee October 11, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Leela, congratulations! So happy for you. I was thinking to myself that day: “Leela should really be writing a Thai cookbook.”

    Can’t wait and I already know that it’s going to be AWESOME!

  3. Liana Krissoff October 11, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    Congratulations! I can’t wait to read it and use it!

  4. Graciela Sottil October 11, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Please sing me up!!! Congratulations

  5. Pete Dulin October 11, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Congrats! That’s very exciting. I’m counting the days until the book is released in 2014. Far too long! Have fun with this project.

    By the way, my first cookbook, Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City’s Best Chefs and Cooks, is due out from the publisher in a couple weeks. I just got galley proofs yesterday. It’s been an exciting process.

    Best of luck to you, Leela.

  6. Kathyo October 11, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    Yay! I am an avid ccokbook reader/collector (450+) and your blog is one of my favourites! I look forward to your cookbook Leela and hope its made available for us Canadians. Dare I ask if Bruno will be making an appearance?!

    • Leela October 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      Kathyo – Haha. Thanks. Bruno is too much of an introvert, so no. 🙂

  7. kat October 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    congratulations on starting your book!!! put me on the list too!!! Iʻve been following your postings (and zealous water buffaloʻs too) since i first stumbled on your blog following a wonderful trip to Thailand (spent most of the time in Chonburi), and desperately needed to feed my addiction to Thai food. Looking forward to your new endeavour 🙂

  8. Peggy October 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    Hooray! Can’t wait to get a copy. Your blog is one of my favorites also. Wouldn’t miss it. Congratulations.

  9. Margee Krebs October 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    SO excited to hear the news! My son introduced me to your blog, and I’ve enjoyed it so much! However, you’re absolutely right – there’s nothing to compare with a cookbook. Can’t wait to have yours in my hands. Congratulations!

  10. Vivian Q. October 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    How wonderful! Congrats!!!

  11. momgateway October 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    Leela, Congratulations! I can’t wait for your cookbook to come out.I’m sure it will be awesome just based on your fabulous blog. If you are looking for recipe testers, I’d like to volunteer and I can even do a review of the final cookbook. Just love your recipes and writing style!

  12. Uncle Vinny October 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm #

    So excited!

  13. Uncle Vinny October 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    PS: Your (newly?) redesigned blog is lookin’ SHARP.

  14. margaret October 11, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Hooray!!!! I’ll buy it! Hope 10 Speed’s editors retain ALL your flavor…..

  15. White October 12, 2012 at 1:05 am #

    New Category: “She writes a cookbook”. Comes as no surprise, so no, we are not buffalo’ed.

  16. Pete October 12, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    wow, wonderful to hear!

    The immediate question that comes to mind… will the book be in english? or will it be in Thai? or.. both? My guess would be english, after all Thai people don’t really cook at home anymore…or read cookbooks much.. (especially ones with Thai recipes in it! ) … Will look forward to it na kub…

    • Leela October 12, 2012 at 6:41 am #

      Thanks, Pete. The book will be in English.

  17. Piers October 12, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Awesome – I hoped you’d do this! Please give us a Kua Kling recipe!

    • Leela October 12, 2012 at 9:09 am #

      Piers, is Khua Kling a common Thai restaurant dish where you live? Thanks.

      • Piers October 12, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

        No – I ate it in Thailand, but I’ve yet to find it here in London. I found a recipe online and cooked it, it was good, but the one I
        I had in Nakorn Si Thamarat was blinding!

  18. Martin Smith October 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    I am looking forward to it please include the recipe for Chaing Mai Sausage and Nam suit(fresh nam}
    also kai krata like the make in Udorn it looked easy to make but I am lacking something don”t know what.I spent 33 years in Thailand and love the food and the people.

  19. BaliThai October 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Yippee – as a dedicated book reading/owning/cherishing blog reader, I am thrilled that you are publishing! Two recipes I always order at our local Thai restaurants (but cant seem to find a recipe for) are Kway Teow Rod (sauteed fresh wide rice noodles with prawns, chicken, onions, black mushrooms, tofu, garlic and bean sprouts), and Basil Eggplant with Tofu (eggplant, soft tofu, chili, garlic, red bell peppers, onion and sweet basil). We have a pretty large Laotian and a smaller Thai population in our smaller corner of Northern California, so I don’t know if that helps in terms of figuring out what kinds of dishes are served here.

    And thank you for your recipe for Khao Tan – my daughters and I plan to make it this weekend!

  20. Laura October 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    OMG OMG OMG OMG!!! That is huge and so exciting–for you, and also me when I get a crack at it! Congrats!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Kusuma October 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    This post made me jump out of bed and squeal with delight! You totally made my day. I am such a huge fan of your blog and often times find myself laying in bed with my lap top on it’s side trying to fashion a makeshift compu-cookbook bedtime reading experience. It makes me look like a weirdo. I can’t wait to cuddle up to some glossy pages.

    Will we be privy to awesome updates/mumbling insights about your creative process through this magnificent endeavor? Let’s get MTV’s making of the video crew up in there!

  22. Pear October 15, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    Oh wow Leela, this is excellent news! Many congratulations. I hope you have lots of fun doing it, I can’t wait to get my hands on it when it’s out 🙂

    Also it may mildly interest you to know that the following dishes are always neatly chalked on the sandwich board outside my local Thai restaurant in North London:

    Pad Thai

    Green Curry

    Panaeng Curry

    Yellow Curry

    I’ve never been, but I might one day.

    It’s an area which attracts a lot of tourists, but there’s also very much a settled population of Londoners. As far as I know, there’s only one other Thai restaurant in reasonable-ish walking distance. This other Thai restaurant has a noodle bar and suki. The suki especially is popular! And there always seems to be at least one hotpot outing with SOAS Thai soc at any given time. Ooh, and also attached to the restaurant is a little Thai supermarket which has recently started stocking horapha, and bunches of coriander with the whole root included….

    But that’s just my blathering at you now, sorry! I just thought, as you asked a little while back on Facebook what Thai dishes overseas people liked, that you might find this information somewhat useful. Anyway, I hope everything will go well for you and I really look forward to reading more of your work. 😀

  23. Tracey@TangledNoodle October 15, 2012 at 11:52 pm #

    It’s about time! 😉

    Congratulations and I so look forward to reading it!!

  24. Em October 16, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    So clever to think that great recipes will make a great book. SIgn me up, too!

  25. Verona October 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Let me know when and where and I will buy it.

  26. Tom M. October 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    Awesome. Have fun!

  27. Renee October 18, 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Oh I can’t wait for this one to come out. Love your blog. I’ll be looking for Pad Thai, those lovely non-fried spring rolls with peanut sauce and all my favorite curries in your book!

  28. Korteztk February 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    I think the Thai cookbook is a great idea, especially if it’s available via kindle or iBooks.

    I also hope there is at least one water buffalo recipe in there, just to make sure an itinerant alter-ego doesn’t try to take over the project!

    • Leela February 6, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      The Zealous Water Buffalo says she greatly resents this comment.

      • Korteztk February 6, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

        Ah, Leela, please tell the Zealous Water Buffalo I was only kidding, and don’t mention this spear. My father is an anthropologist, and it’s a keepsake he brought back decades ago from the mbuti Pygmies, when he visited them in the Ituri Forest. It remains on the wall at all times, even though my wife finds it strange. At least I don’t use my vuvuzela anymore, despite getting it from South Africa during the last World Cup.

        I support animal rights, even for metaphorical water buffalo, especially those who blog and interview!

    • Peggy February 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      Wonderful! Can’t wait for it to come out.


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