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250 × 190 × 17 mm
240 pages
150 colour illustrations
01 Jun 2008
  • £17.95

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Ricelands The World of South-East Asian Food Michael Freeman

Pad thai, pho soup, bao: the cuisines of South-east Asia have ardent enthusiasts far beyond their native lands, and are now among the most consumed dishes in the world. But the familiar take-away menus and thriving specialist shops 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 South-east Asian countries.

Ricelands takes the reader on a colourful and engaging tour of these popular tourist destinations through the richly layered cultures surrounding the various food traditions. Travelling 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 to it), the author unearths unexpected treasures and tantalizing facts about South-east 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 South-east Asian eating fits into the rhythms of modern-day living.

A vibrantly illustrated and wide-ranging study, Ricelands takes us into the heart of tropical Asia and the delicious foods that define it the world over.

‘Food and foreign places are constant companions, for obvious reasons. The combination is gloriously exemplified in . . . Ricelands by the photographer Michael Freeman. He explains the food of south-east Asia in words and pictures that have never been bettered.’ — The Guardian

‘Freeman has produced a wonderfully intrepid, quirky Southeast Asian pictorial overview based on many years traveling, shooting, eating, and above all, thinking. Reliving multiple journeys to Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, 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" (aromatic spices, multitudinous herbs, pungent fermented fish products, galvanizing chiles) with which Southeast Asiancuisines surround the basic foodstuff.’ — Los Angeles Times

‘With chapters devoted to spices, vegetables and noodles and a historical resume of how Asian food travelled east to Europe and the wider world, this book will interest plantsmen, cooks and social historians in equal measure. It would be a pity to dismiss Ricelands as merely a coffee table glossy. It's a thundering good read.’ — Asian Affairs

‘an exquisite volume from the award-winning photographer . . . a well-written and well-researched book. Michael has a very light and very readable style and his love of food is evident.’ — MostlyFood.co.uk

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Michael Freeman is an award-winning photographer and author and a specialist in South-east Asia. A Thai speaker, he has an intimate knowledge of the region, having reported on it for more than 25 years while following his private passion for food. His many acclaimed books include Spirit of Asia (2000), Palaces of the Gods: Khmer Art & Architecture in Thailand (2001), Angkor/Icon (2003), Cambodia (Reaktion, 2004), Lanna: Thailand's Northern Kingdom (2001), and several on Angkor. He has photographed food books for and with Madhur Jaffrey, Alan Yau and Vatcharin Bhumichitr.

1. The Paddy Field
2. Spice and Savour
3. Fire and Fixings
4. Wild about Wild
5. Crossroads
6. South-east by West