SRI OWEN'S INDONESIAN FOOD : UK EDITION
published 2008 by Pavilion Books, London
THE INDONESIAN KITCHEN : US EDITION
published 2009 by Interlink Books, Northampton, Massachusetts
DIE INDONESISCHE KÜCHE : GERMAN EDITION translated by Susanne Vogel
published 2009 by Christian Verlag GmbH, München
This, my latest book (and maybe my last, who knows?), was also the first to have a full-scale book launch at the Indonesian Embassy in London, with a graceful speech from His Excellency. It had other launches as well, at the 2008 Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, and at Asia House, and of course at a party in the offices of Anova, the parent company of Pavilion Books. It had been my ambition for many years to be published by Pavilion, who are well-known for their excellent book design and high production standards – and indeed this is a most handsome hardback, beautifully presented and illustrated: the recipe dishes were photographed by Gus Filgate, a number of scene-setting illustrations were carefully chosen from agencies, and I confess that many of my favourite pictures in the book were taken by me or Roger and by friends, in Indonesia, or in Italy, where most of the text was written in two months of intensive writing and cooking during the summer of 2007.
When I first proposed this book to my publisher, I wanted it to be a sort of companion volume to 'Thai Food', the wonderful and beautiful encyclopedia of Thai food culture by my good friend David Thompson. That, however, would have stretched resources too far, and my plans had to be cut back, with the loss of about 30% of the original list of recipes. One reviewer in Amazon and a few more readers have pointed out that some of the dishes in my 'Indonesian Food' also appear among my earlier books. This is true, but every recipe in this book has been revised, updated, and re-tested to take account of the availability of ingredients and developments in the public's taste for, and knowledge of, Asian flavours. One writer remarked on the fact that, from a national cuisine largely based on chickens, I had chosen only three chicken recipes. That's a fair comment, but there are so many other good dishes in the book that my conscience doesn't suffer too much.
My enjoyment of picking, testing, and writing the recipes was only matched by the pleasure I had in recalling my early life in Sumatra and Java – even the hard times of war and revolution – my student days and early career, my marriage, and the succeeding forty years of my life in London and travels far and wide. This book, and 'Indonesian Regional Food', together give, I think, a pretty fair picture of the country and its cooking, and my love for both.