When James Oseland, the new editor of Saveur magazine, was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute in 1982, he was invited to visit Indonesia by a classmate. From his first bite, he was smitten. Oseland adopted Indonesia as a second home, learned the language and ate his way through every region of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, all culinarily related.
His literate and mouthwatering new book, "Cradle of Flavor" (Norton, $35) makes anyone susceptible to evocative food writing weak with hunger and ready to get on a plane to Java. His accounts of his adventures in home kitchens, at weddings, in markets, and on a fishing boat, put you right there with him. He has gleaned 100 recipes from home cooks, handing each one over to us fully annotated and do-able. A big chapter on ingredients, the more unusual ones illustrated with color photographs, and a smaller chapter on techniques and equipment, really get you out of your armchair and off to the Asian market. Luscious lemongrass-scented coconut rice? Easy.