Ricelands: The World of South-east Asian Food

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9781861893789: Ricelands: The World of South-east Asian Food

Pad thai, pho, bao: the cuisines of Southeast Asia have ardent enthusiasts far beyond their native lands, and are now among the most-consumed dishes in the world. But the familiar take-out menus and thriving storefronts rest atop a compelling history of food, culture, and modernity. Award-winning photographer and writer Michael Freeman now offers here an all-encompassing guide to the cuisines of eight Southeast Asian countries.
            Ricelands takes the reader on a colorful and engaging tour of these popular tourist destinations through the richly layered cultures surrounding the various food traditions. Traveling across the landscapes of Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Freeman explores the origins of their respective cuisines, the defining characteristics of authentic dishes, and the evolution of the cuisines as they entered foreign cultures. From birds’ nests gathered in Thailand’s coastal caves to the less familiar dishes of Burma and Cambodia to the pungent durian fruit (and Westerners’ often aghast reactions), the author unearths unexpected treasures and tantalizing facts about Southeast Asia and its social history. The book also examines the cooking techniques, complex spices, and agricultural economies that underpin the countries’ food cultures, and considers how the informal nature of Southeast Asian eating fits into the rhythms of modern-day living.
           Vibrantly illustrated and elegantly conceived, Ricelands takes us into the heart of tropical Asia and the delicious foods that define it the world over.
 

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About the Author:

Michael Freeman is a Thai speaker who has reported on southeast Asia for over 25 years and is the author of many books including Spirit of Asia, Cambodia, and Lanna: Thailand’s Northern Kingdom. He is also an award-winning photographer who has photographed food books for and with Madhur Jaffrey, Alan Yau, and Vatcharin Bhumichitr. 

Review:

"Freeman, an English photographer, has produced a wonderfully intrepid, quirky Southeast Asian pictorial overview based on many years' traveling, shooting, eating, and above all, thinking. . . . He asks us to care deeply about lands not just sustained by rice but literally sculpted by it. He writes at fascinating length about things that get jettisoned from most cookbooks—the sheer demands of this crop, the rural poverty of 'ricelands,' the historical logic behind the brilliant 'vocabulary of taste.'" (Los Angeles Times)

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