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Fragrant Rice: My Continuing Love Affair with Bali [Includes 115 Recipes]

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  141 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
This memoir, peppered with authentic Balinese recipes, is a love letter to the food and culture of Bali

When Janet De Neefe stepped off the plane in Bali in 1974, she felt an immediate connection to this island paradise. Though curious about Bali's culture, its warm people and its mouthwatering cuisine, she didn't expect to fall in love with a Balinese man and make a new li
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 15th 2006 by Periplus Editions (HK) ltd. (first published September 1st 2004)
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Jul 29, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book is written by Janet De Neefe, an Australian married to a Balinese. She is also the owner of Casa Luna (restaurant, cooking class, guest house, furniture and handicraft shop). It is part autobiography, part fact book on Balinese culture, and part cookbook. Written in an easy, informal manners, it contains funny lines occasionally. Stories weaved among her young, hippie days, her experience settling down in Bali, and food. It's good because readers can feel and imagine life experiences th ...more
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Although not a cook myself, in fact, I hate cooking, I loved Janet's very matter-of-fact approach to life, very absorbing. Being Australian and married to a Balinese man (and me being a New Zealander and married to a Javanese man) she mentioned so many things about the Indonesian culture I can positively and negatively relate to. Dotted throughout the book are her recipes, and many of those are traditional Balinese recipes. However, as she mentioned in the book, one cannot pos ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
I quite liked this book; the three stars are for enjoy-ability rather than good writing because the writing is patchy. At times the attempt to combine personal narrative and information about the author’s perspective on Bali with a succession of recipes gets the better of the author. This is a really hard combination so I am not surprised that it is too much for an inexperienced author.

I have been to Bali, and eaten at the restaurant the author and her husband run, so it is interesting to read i
Shannon Valdes
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm so happy I read this book before traveling to Bali! Janet shares so many insights about Balinese culture that only someone truly immersed in their way of life could know.
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Janet deNeefe was born in Melbourne, and has lived in Ubud, Bali for 27 years. She first came to the island in 1974 with her family and fell in love with it. Later when she returned, she fell in love with her husband Ketut and she moved to Ubud in 1984. “Fragrant Rice” is part memoir, part cookbook, which make sense because Janet loves cooking and was in awe of Balinese cooking in particular. She learned from her relatives and other Balinese and founded two restaurants and a cooking school. She ...more
Oct 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Okay, several things can be said about this book that are not that favorable: It's not a discussion of Balinese culture, it does not have any critical reflection of the land, it's not that well written (technically speaking) etc., etc. So many reviewers of this book have a point. But, honestly, I don't care.

This book is a book of love! The author is in love with Bali and this is the spirit with which it must be read to really be appreciated. And she does say so already in the subtitle so no one
Endora Matei
Nov 19, 2013 rated it liked it
On my first trip to Bali in 2009, I picked up this book and read it on the porch of the villa I stayed at, being surrounded by the beautiful Bali nature, the warm weather and the sound of the gamelan. It couldn't have been a more perfect setting. Kudo's to miss Janet De Neefe for sharing some captivating inside knowledge about the Balinese culture, traditions and food. If you are interested in knowing more about the culture, traditions and food from Bali, this is a wonderful read. It is a person ...more
Aug 03, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Yeah sure, read Eat, Pray, Love, but save it for the plane ride home. When you're traveling through Bali and especially when you're headed to Ubud, read Fragrant Rice.

This memoir told through the lens of food and cooking explains a lot of the rituals and cultural items that you'll see around you on your trip. The book is written by the chef and owner of the Honey Luna cafe, which is worth a stop when you're needing some Western fusion with your Balinese cuisine.

Plus, the recipes (even if you d
Jacqui Allen
Mar 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a really interesting read from an Australian woman who has lived the past few decades in Bali (one of my favourite places in the whole world). I really enjoyed the discussion of culture and food in this book (and there were so many wonderful Balinese recipes). It was also interesting to read about how the author ended up in Bali, falling in love with a Balinese man and relocating her life there. I definitely recommend this if you are a fan of Balinese cuisine and/or the real Bali (Kuta ...more
Maria Magdalena
Feb 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I bought this book during one of my stays in Bali (2009, I think) and agree with most reviewers - it is not that special. Nor does it give a real meaningful insight in the day to day Bali family life.
At the same time I bought William Ingram's 'A Little Bit One O'Clock - Living with a Balinese Family'.
This book is outstanding. The author and his wife have known the Balinese family portrayed in the book since 1987, and have lived in Bali full time since 1993. Try and get hold of it, and then com
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
This Australian author married a Balinese man and the book is her story of her adopted country and family experiences. The book is part autobiography, part travelogue, and part cookbook. She writes with great detail on festivals and rituals that a visitor is usually not privy to except on the surface. DeNeefe certainly gives the reader an appreciation for the details and care that go into Balinese culinary skills and its artistry. Especially if you're planning a trip to Bali, I would recommend t ...more
Feb 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who love food.
First and foremost, if you like to eat and/or cook food from Southeast Asia and Bali specifically you should consider this book. I am mostly looking forward to learning how to whip up some good eats. Most chapters include step by step directions for cooking various dishes - including such things as how to choose a knife and so forth. As for the reading portions, it was rather interesting to learn more about the religious rituals of Bali.
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
An enjoyable memoir written by an Australian woman who married a Balinese man. Together, they have four children, several restaurants, a guest house, and a cooking school in Bali.

This isn't really a "literary" memoir or even a very critical one, but it was one person's story and quite interesting if you accept it as just that. I loved reading about the food and the ceremonies.

I reserve the right to update my opinion of the book after visiting Bali this summer, though!
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Ginger by: Read
This was not what I expected at all. DeNeefe began well, but she didn't follow that path instead she went off into her personal life.

She married a native of Bali and the book really could be quite good, but instead there are page after page of recipes (which I suppose some readers will love) which didn't interest me at all. I would rather have heard more about Bali and the town she lived in instead. Oh well, it could also have used a good editor.
Oct 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
I should have given this book one star - I didn't finish it. But herein lies the problem - I liked the memoir at the beginning but then halfway through it just became a recipe book with extended scene setting.
Jan 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I listened to her on a radio interview with Kim Hill and she sounded really a lovely lady. I love her recipes which are entirely focused on Balinese cooking. Drop by to her website

We love dining at her cafe!
Mar 28, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, food-drink
Yummy-sounding Balinese recipes and an intimate look at what it's like to live as a Westerner in Bali. I read this book before my recent trip to Bali and it provided insights into the cultural practices that I hadn't heard before. I would love to join Janet DeNeefe and move to Ubud!
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it
3 stars only because it reminds me of being in bali, and i want to try her recipes. writing didn't thrill me, but the subject matter is close to my heart.
Mia Ferreira
Mar 15, 2013 rated it liked it
A great easy read if you're interested in understanding Balinese history and culture. And delicious recipes too!
Aug 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
So interesting. Before you go to Bali you should read her story and then make sure you take a cooking class or at least eat at her restaurant in Ubud.
Dec 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
Couldn't finish it. Not interested enough.
Ann Owen
Nov 30, 2011 rated it liked it
An educational read of the culture, way of life and recipes of Bali.
Pia Bergqvist
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
The cheapest way to travel Beautiful Bali
Eileen Filomeno
Apr 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read this before I made a trip to Bali. I really like this book. Great insights into the Balinese culture and great recipes that I can't wait to try. I've fallen in love with Bali!
Dec 18, 2008 rated it liked it
This book teaches you about the heart and soul of Bali. Very interesting and wonderful recipes.
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
I read this because I am going to Bali in September. A good starter book for this venture. I will try some of the interesting recipes in it soon.
Philippa Madden
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
This book must be read while in Bali! Part cookbook part memoir is enchanting when you are reading it in a villa in Ubud with fragrance of frangipani in the air
Michelle D'silva
rated it really liked it
Feb 08, 2012
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Apr 18, 2013
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