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Book Review: Tapai – Travels & Guilty Pleasures of a Fermented Malaysian

Title: Tapai – Travels & Guilty Pleasures of a Fermented Malaysian
Author: Hishamuddin Rais
Publisher: ZI Publications
Ratings: hearts5heart2

If you think the title of the book is intrigu­ing as the reviewer did, you are in for a treat. Written by Hishamuddin Rais, the columnist for Off The Edge magazine, blog­ger and former ISA detainee has plenty to say in this book that pays tribute to a diverse selection of gastronomic adven­tures.

From his sister’s home-made tapai, gulai itik at a village restaurant and satay in Kua­la Lumpur, his many accounts of flavourful dishes are consistently both detailed and drool-worthy.

Hishamuddin’s tales of tasty concoctions are not only from Malaysia but from cities across the world, including Rawalpindi, Tokyo and London.

Tapai – Travels & Guilty Pleasures of a Fermented Malaysian is a unique read as it fuses stories about a variety of food fe­tishes with real life travelling anecdotes. Between “food porn” and cultural experi­ences from his days of exile, it is hard to pinpoint which aspect defines the book.

While the mixing of English, Bahasa Ma­laysia and French may be frowned upon by hardcore linguists, it portrays the au­thor’s straight-forward, relaxed and open minded persona to the front. Hishamud­din’s personal and candid method of writ­ing is a breath of fresh air.

Adding to the authenticity of his stories are colourful photos of dishes he tried with relish and people he met while on his quest for good old fashioned food. Warning – this book may make you hungry and cause you to travel the world in search of new flavours.

(Written in Nov 2011 for The Malay Mail)


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