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Food writer Dunlop is better known in the U.K., where her comprehensive volumes on Sichuanese and Hunanese cuisine carved out her niche and eventually became contemporary classics. Turning to personal narrative through the backstory and consequences of her fascination with China, she produces an autobiographical food-and-travel classic of a narrowly focused but rarefied order. Dunlop's initial 1992 trip to Sichuan proved so enthralling that she later obtained a year's residential study scholarship in the provincial capital, Chengdu. There, her enrollment in the local Institute of Higher Cuisine, a professional chef's program, created a cultural exchange program of a specialized kind. The research for and success of her resulting cookbooks permitted Dunlop to return to China in a more experienced role as chef and writer; that led to this reflective memoir, which probes into the author's search for kitchens in the Forbidden City as well as the people and places of remote West China. One key to this supple and affectionate book is its time frame: by arriving in China in the middle of vast economic upheavals, Dunlop explored and experienced the country and its culture as it was transforming into a postcommunist communism. (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gourmet and Saveur magazine writer Dunlop (Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook) first traveled to China in 1992, unprepared for the "gastronomical assaults" that ensued. From then on, because it would be rude to leave food untouched on her plate, she vowed to eat whatever food she was offered-whether it was mixed vegetables or frog casserole and stir-fried snake-though to do so was often risky. With provocative chapter titles such as "Only Barbarians Eat Salad," "The Hungry Dead," and "Chanel and Chickens' Feet," this book does not disappoint. Readers are taken on a culinary journey throughout the various regions and provinces of China and are treated to recipes at the end of each chapter. Back home in England, Dunlop finds herself hesitant to eat a caterpillar that made its way into her steamed vegetables. Dare she cross that cultural boundary of eating an insect in the Western world? Dunlop's latest is a fascinating look at Chinese food and customs. Recommended for all libraries.
Prologue: The Chinese Eat Everything 8
1 Mouths That Love Eating 15
2 Dan Dan Noodles! 34
3 First Kill Your Fish 47
4 Only Barbarians Eat Salad 60
5 The Cutting Edge 76
6 The Root of Tastes 93
7 The Hungry Dead 114
8 The Rubber Factor 133
9 Sickness Enters Through the Mouth 150
10 Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party 173
11 Chanel and Chickens' Feet 185
12 Feeding the Emperor 199
13 Guilt and Pepper 217
14 Journey to the West 236
15 Of Paw and Bone 255
16 Scary Crabs 273
17 A Dream of Red Mansions 291
Epilogue: The Caterpillar 309
List of the Main Chinese Dynasties 313
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 8, 2008
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2009
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Posted July 21, 2009
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