Kitchen Chinese: A Novel about Food, Family, and Finding Yourself

Kitchen Chinese: A Novel about Food, Family, and Finding Yourself

by Ann Mah

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Overview

“Ann Mah’s Kitchen Chinese is a delicious debut novel, seasoned with just the right balance of humor and heart, and sprinkled with fascinating cultural tidbits.”
 —Claire Cook, bestselling author of Must Love Dogs

 

Kitchen Chinese, Ann Mah’s funny and poignant first novel about a young Chinese-American woman who travels to Beijing to discover food, family, and herself is a delight—complete with mouth-watering descriptions of Asian culinary delicacies, from Peking duck and Mongolian hot pot to the colorful, lesser known Ants in a Tree that will delight foodies everywhere. Reminiscent of Elizabeth Gilbert’s runaway bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, Mah’s tale of clashing cultures, rival siblings, and fine dining is an unforgettable, unexpectedly sensual reading experience—the story of one woman’s search for identity and purpose in an exotic and faraway land.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061771279
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/09/2010
Pages: 339
Sales rank: 770,833
Product dimensions: 5.42(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

Ann Mah is a food and travel writer based in Paris and Washington DC. She is the author of the food memoir Mastering the Art of French Eating, and a novel, Kitchen Chinese. She regularly contributes to the New York Times’ Travel section and she has written for Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue.com, BonAppetit.com, Washingtonian magazine, and other media outlets.

What People are Saying About This

Irina Reyn

“Suffused with humor, genuine warmth, and mouth-watering culinary descriptions, Kitchen Chinese is, first and foremost, about the adventure of self-discovery.”

Claire Cook

“Ann Mah’s Kitchen Chinese is a delicious debut novel, seasoned with just the right balance of humor and heart, and sprinkled with fascinating cultural tidbits. Read thoroughly. Share with friends.”

Jen Lin-Liu

“With a light, self-deprecating touch, Ann Mah portrays the quirks, pleasures, and surprises of life as a young Chinese-American woman finding her way in an alien motherland.”

Patricia Wells

“Ann Mah’s richly detailed Kitchen Chinese is humorous enough to make you laugh out loud, and so delicious you are sure to begin craving Peking duck and dim sum. A true tale of reinventing oneself in a new and foreign world.”

Rachel DeWoskin

“A story of how we find and nourish ourselves in unexpected ways and places, so delicious that I took breaks from reading only to dash to the phone and order Chinese.”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Kitchen Chinese: A Novel about Food, Family, and Finding Yourself 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Isabelle Lee grew up on Chinese-American cuisine though she never cooked any as her mom was the family chef. However, she can talks a good game as she grew up listening to her mom discuss food. However, her career in New York tanks so she heads to Beijing where her sister Claire practices law. She and Claire are not bosom sisters. However, Isabelle feels good about seeking her roots when she obtains work writing about Kitchen Chinese cuisine to the western expatriate population. Still the transition is not smooth as she struggles with adjustment since the cultures in New York and Beijing are a zillion light years apart and she begins to learn Claire's secret. However after considering going back to the States, the siblings warm up to one another and soon Isabelle finds she likes life in Beijing. This is a terrific contemporary tale starring a fascinating lead character who feels like a fresh water fish in the ocean. Roots aside, Isabelle realizes her racial classification is backwards as American comes way before Chinese. Even the language she speaks is 99% English and a few Kitchen (and bathroom) Chinese words. As she struggles to adapt in order to connect with her sister and her heritage, fans who take the journey with Isabelle will appreciate the trip. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful tale of a young woman reclaiming her life with food, travel, and love!
debbook More than 1 year ago
Isabelle Lee, Iz, has just been fired from her job as a fact checker for a magazine. Encouraged by her friends she decides she needs an adventure and moves from Manhattan to Beijing, where her older sister Claire, a high-powered attorney, lives. Iz is determined to have an adventure but not to find her Chinese roots as if she were in "an Amy Tan novel". Iz considers herself American at heart, not Chinese. Claire gets her a job at a magazine for expats, Beijing NOW, where she ends up as the food critic. Her Mandarin is limited and she is unfamiliar with a lot of Chinese culture but she has lots of help from her new friends. Claire, the older, successful, introverted sister is a new person in Beijing, but Iz doesn't think she is really happy and is determined to be there for her sister. my review: First things first. Don't read on an empty stomach. This book made me so hungry as Iz made the rounds of restaurants that I think I gained 5 lbs just reading this book. Okay, not from reading, but from getting a snack to keep me from drooling all over the book. If I was reading this on my Kindle, I would have shorted it out. This is a pretty light-hearted, Bridget Jones in China type book; very fun and clever. Isabelle was very likable as were most of the characters. She bumbles around town while trying to get the hang of things. The only thing I didn't like was the obligatory romance part. I felt like shoving Iz off of a cliff during some parts and the ending was just too pat. Must there be romance or can't there just be fun and dating? No matter what happens to girls in these books, the author always needs them to find Mr Right by the end. Does this speak to the readers or is this the only way to market these books? This is why these are considered chick-lit and lose some credibility from otherwise enjoyable novels and Kitchen Chinese suffers the same fate. And we have a decent read instead of a really good one. Mildly disappointed once again! Except for the food. Yummy! my rating 3.75/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
couldnt have asked for a better book! was very sad when it was over because now i have to find a new one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
made me obsessed with Chinese food. I am still obsessed. I have some in front of me right now- spicy tofu....yummmm. Obsession aside, I really did enjoy this book- it was truly an enjoyable read. Ann set the atmosphere so well that you felt you were right there with the main character. An interesting peek into modern Chinese life from a Chinese-American's perspective. I think I read the book in 2 nights.
amanderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is decently written humorous chick lit with some delicious descriptions of Chinese food. The Chinese American protagonist loses her boyfriend, and then her publishing job amidst scandal. She decides to make a fresh start in Beijing, despite only knowing "kitchen Chinese" learned around food and the kitchen rather than possessing true fluency. The major appeals of the book are the humorous romantic encounters, descriptions of life in Beijing, mouth watering menus, and insight into the displaced feelings of a 1st gen American emigrating to a country where she blends in physically but not culturally.
mlanzotti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although this seems like a memoir, it's fiction inspired by real life. Maybe all fiction is. It's the story of being an outsider,first by being of Chinese origin in America, then the title character goes to China and feels American. Nicly done.
Ravenclaw79 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A really interesting look at the growth of Beijing, as well as the inner workings of Chinese families and culture, with a bit of food knowledge sprinkled in. If any of that sounds at all interesting to you, I'd recommend it -- it was a worthwhile read.
bookmagic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Isabelle Lee, Iz, has just been fired from her job as a fact checker for a magazine. Encouraged by her friends she decides she needs an adventure and moves from Manhattan to Beijing, where her older sister Claire, a high-powered attorney, lives. Iz is determined to have an adventure but not to find her Chinese roots as if she were in "an Amy Tan novel". Iz considers herself American at heart, not Chinese. Claire gets her a job at a magazine for expats, Beijing NOW, where she ends up as the food critic. Her Mandarin is limited and she is unfamiliar with a lot of Chinese culture but she has lots of help from her new friends. Claire, the older, successful, introverted sister is a new person in Beijing, but Iz doesn't think she is really happy and is determined to be there for her sister.my review:First things first. Don't read on an empty stomach. This book made me so hungry as Iz made the rounds of restaurants that I think I gained 5 lbs just reading this book. Okay, not from reading, but from getting a snack to keep me from drooling all over the book. If I was reading this on my Kindle, I would have shorted it out.This is a pretty light-hearted, Bridget Jones in China type book; very fun and clever. Isabelle was very likable as were most of the characters. She bumbles around town while trying to get the hang of things.The only thing I didn't like was the obligatory romance part. I felt like shoving Iz off of a cliff during some parts and the ending was just too pat. Must there be romance or can't there just be fun and dating? No matter what happens to girls in these books, the author always needs them to find Mr Right by the end.Does this speak to the readers or is this the only way to market these books? This is why these are considered chick-lit and lose some credibility from otherwise enjoyable novels and Kitchen Chinese suffers the same fate. And we have a decent read instead of a really good one. Mildly disappointed once again! Except for the food. Yummy!my rating 3.75/5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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ClaireCookbooks More than 1 year ago
As an author, I receive lots of requests to write quotes for books. This one jumped to the front of the pack. Ann writes beautifully and has a sharp eye and a fresh perspective. She also has a great blog at http://annmah.net. Here's my quote: "Ann Mah's Kitchen Chines is a delicious debut novel, seasoned with just the right balance of humor and heart, and sprinkled with fascinating cultural tidbits. Read thoroughly. Share with friends."