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Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China

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  • Posted September 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A journey through China, through food

    An excellent overview of regional food in China. I've used Ms. Dunlop's Land of Plenty so often that the book opens itself to my favorite recipes. Land of Plenty hints at Ms. Dunlop herself and provides many excellent recipes (after all it's a cookbook), where Shark's Fin has only a few recipes (one or two per chapter) with much information about China's regional food and Ms. Dunlop's adventures eating there.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2008

    Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper

    I have often wondered why there is such a frustrating dearth of books describing, in detail and in English, the philosophies and protocols of Chinese cuisine. Why hasn't the Chinese equivalent of a Larousse Gastronomique been written or translated into the foreign barbarian tongue? With her first two tomes, i Sichuan Food /i and i The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook /i , bararienne English food writer Fuchsia Dunlop helped to address this astonishing lack. Her witty, passionate, in-depth explanations blew fresh wok hei into the Chinese cookbook world. Her third work, a chronicle of seasons spent living in China, takes the converse tack to Kwong and Yan. It is not about Dunlop's description of a country that belongs to her, but rather about her discovery that she somehow belongs to that country. Her clear, crisp-edged prose - she is a seasoned part-timer for the BBC - does for China what Alistair Cooke's did for America. We watch Fu Xia (as she is known there) learning how to speak culinary Mandarin, gut live fish and balance 23 cardinal flvaour blends at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine in Chengdu we follow her around Hunan trying somehow to gather recipes as Sars panic hits town. We wince as she tiptoes around rural politicos while searching for the best Sichuan peppercorns, and shudders as she notices the scummy Sichuan lake water from which came the delicious hairy crabs she's just eaten. She writes of China's familiar culinary faces - the omnivorousness, the penchant for extreme textures, the disturbing food scares, the strangeness of imperial palace customs - with an outsider's eyes, an insider's palate, and a lover's affection. The best food book I've read so far this year.

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    Posted December 10, 2009

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    Posted July 21, 2009

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