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

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


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Fuchsia Dunlop, the first Westerner to train at the prestigious Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine, "has done more to explain real Chinese cooking to non-Chinese cooks than anyone" (Julia Moskin, New York Times). In Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper, Dunlop recalls her rapturous encounters with China's culinary riches, alongside her brushes with corruption, environmental degradation, and greed. The resulting memoir is a vibrant portrait of Chinese culinary culture, from the remote Gansu countryside to the enchanting old city of Yangzhou. The most talked-about travel narrative when it was published a decade ago. Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper remains a thrilling adventure that you won't be able to put down.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393357745
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/15/2019
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 310,719
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Fuchsia Dunlop is the author of Land of Fish and Rice, among other books. She has won four James Beard awards for her writing and lives in London.

Table of Contents

Foreword Bee Wilson 6

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

Acknowledgements 315

Permissions 317

Index 319

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Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
cajela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fabulous foodie reading.This is a memoir of Fuschia Dunlop's life in China. She starts as a curious English girl on a study program, fascinated by some of the food she encounters in Chengdu. She talks her way in to training as a Sichuan chef, and goes on to revisit the country many times and write a couple of cookbooks. And also horrify her parents with how native she's gone in her food tastes...There's some social history and some recipes, and it's not all cheerfully sanitised. She's aware of her privilege, though not always sure what to do with it.She can occasionally get a little irritating in her convert zeal to the marvels of sichuan cooking. Yes, my dear, western cuisine *does* in fact have words for those things you say it doesn't. Most of them in french, of course.Well worth a read.
cestovatela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Fuchsia Dunlop moved to China in the early 1990s, it was still a rarely visited backwater overflowing with traditional culture and lacking in technology. She quickly abandoned her plan to study Chinese minority cultures in favor of studying Chinese cooking. A few months later, she was enrolled as the first and only foreign student in Sichuan's prestigious cooking school. This is a truly excellent food and travel memoir. Rather than gawking at the strange (to Western taste) things the Chinese eat, Fuchsia learns to appreciate the textures of goose intestines and sauteed caterpillar. This makes for some occasionally disgusting reading, but for the most part, I admired the author's unusual ability to fully join another culture. The food is vividly, beautifully described in away that inspires me to open my own culinary horizons. And, although food is the focus, Fuchsia doesn't neglect the cultural, historical and ethical situations that come along with it. I particularly appreciated the last chapters, in which she wrestles with a Communist banquet thrown at the expense of struggling peasants and the environmental impact of the appetites of China's newly wealthy. This is a satisfying book on many levels, and I think almost every reader would enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dale_Mc More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.