And actually he knows a lot. And taught me a lot too. (Here I have to add that while I may be familiar with eating my country's food and some of it's neighbours', I don't know much about cooking it. My rendang for example, comes (ahem!) out of a packet). Plus Oseland has pretty stellar credentials. He's been editor-in-chief of Saveur since 2006 and teaches cooking classes at New York’s Institute for Culinary Education.
His love affair began when he was just a 19-year-old student in the 1980s. An Indonesian classmate invites him to stay with her family in Jakarta. He ended up traveling in Indonesia for a year. His travels have included stops in Malaysia and Singapore. While I despair at the way he makes the occasional sweeping statement about these three similar but oh so very different nations, he does provide an apt introduction to their cuisines and a translation of traditional ingredients into what's available in the western market. For me, that was the most useful section - the ingredients needed, their possible substitutes, and more importantly, how to store them, which I'm always a bit confused by. I have yet to attempt any of his recipes but they seem to be doable, and are of a nice variety (for instance, he has several recipes for sambal, including a lemongrass sambal from Bali, which sounds really yummy). The best cookbooks are the ones that not only make me hungry but also provide a personal account of the author's love for food. And Cradle of Flavor works well on both accounts.