The growth in popularity of Thai food is unstoppable. All over the world, new Thai restaurants are opening at an astonishing rate, matched by specialist stores selling the essential ingredients that give the food its unique character - Asian herbs and spices, unfamiliar vegetables and unusual sauces. Yet the very strangeness of these ingredients is daunting to many cooks who are unsure how to choose, prepare and preserve such exotic things. This book has taken the ingredients themselves as the starting point for over 150 new and wide-ranging dishes. Here is all the practical information the budding Thai cook needs, in an easy-to-use format. Vatch takes the reader on a culinary joumey through the land of his birth, skilfully outlining the geography, character and cultural traditions of Thailand's four main regions. The first chapter takes in Bangkok, the central plains and the Gulf coast. Here there is an concentration of rice, noodles and the key sauces, such as fish, soy and bean sauce, which constitute the main flavourings. Moving then to the mountainous north, the savours are usually hot, thanks to garlic, chilles, pickles and preserves. Next, the north-eastem region supplies all the basic herbs, including the citrus flavours of lemon grass, kaffir limes and tamarind that give so many Thai dishes their tangy edge. Finally, down south, along the isthmus, we discover the sweet flavours exotic cooking fruits, palm sugar at Petchaburi and coconuts on the island of Koh Samui - food which often includes sweet and savoury combinations. The book contains a wealth of striking images which make these journeys through today's Thailand not just a gastronomic odyssey but an appealing experience.