Ricelands by Michael Freeman – review

The World of South-East Asian Food.

Ricelands Michael Freeman must be one of the most celebrated and prolific photographers around. Ricelands is his latest book (there are over 100 others) but this one isn’t about photography. Have a look at michaelfreemanphoto.com for more of his work.

Michael says of this book: “In it, I write about a subject close to my heart and even closer to my stomach – the culture of food in South-east Asia. Learn about one of the world’s tastiest regional cuisines and how it’s really prepared and eaten in homes, not at all the same as in restaurants in the West. And there are two hundred of my photographs, as well.”

This is an exquisite volume from the award-winning photographer who is our guide through the cuisines of eight South-east Asian countries. Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia,  Laos, The Philippines and Indonesia are all represented with the most sumptuous pictures.

This man has obviously gone to some considerable trouble to research some of the dishes that we tourists are bound to seek out. Of a rather large insect, Michael writes “Cooked to perfection, it should be rather more chewy than crisp on the outside, with plenty of rich, gravy-like liquid remaining inside.”…Um, perhaps later!

But amusing observations aside, this is indeed a well-written and well-researched book. Michael has a light and very readable style and his love of food is evident. There are 20 or so recipes at the back of the book that are tempting. Chilli Crab from Singapore is a robust and thoroughly delicious dish which will conjure images of sultry evenings with the aroma of damp vegetation and jasmine floating on the air.

Ricelands – The World of South-east Asian Food is an absorbing read and will be appreciated not only by lovers of Asian food but by travellers who want to be transported back to this remarkable part of the world.

This is a marvellous travelogue especially appealing to those of us who want to know about the “real” food of this region. So much here is new and fascinating and for that reason alone this would be an inspired gift for anyone lucky enough to be flying off to South-east Asia.

I think that Michael Freeman has missed his vocation. He should pursue a career as a food writer and produce a lot more illustrated books of this quality.

Ricelands – The World of South-East Asian Food
Author: Michael Freeman
Published by: Reaktion Books
Price: £17.95
ISBN 978-1-86189-378-9


Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018