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, which award-winning photographer and writer Michael Freeman explores in this comprehensive and beautifully illustrated guide to South-east Asian cuisine. "Ricelands" takes the reader on a colourful and engaging tour through the richly layered food cultures of the region. Travelling across the landscapes of Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Indonesia and the Philippines, Freeman explores the origins and defining characteristics of their respective cuisines, and their evolution 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. 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.
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