At more than 600 pages, with an oversize trim of 10" x 11", and replete with photographs of prepared food, ingredients, street scenes, and countryside, this is a fascinatingly sweeping exploration of culinary traditions of the Malay peoples. Although its focus is the Malay of Singapore, by necessity it encompasses a much wider region of the Malay archipelago, known as Nusantara.
Author Khir Johari, born and raised in Singapore, has poured years of research into this work, and almost from the outset he is careful to identify the overlapping cultural and national identities within the Malay, a reflection not only of current political boundaries, but of a cultural history which stretches back centuries.
Johari's exploration cites a compelling array of sources, from a stele in East Java dated to 902 CE and a sixteenth-century annal of the Malacca sultanate to early 20th-century cookbooks for Malay housewives. The book does contain recipes, largely as a form of illustration for traditional dishes, but its cultural explorations are its heart.
Fascinating on many levels.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.