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How to Cook a Dragon: Living, Loving, and Eating in China Paperback – November 18, 2008

3.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"At age 30, author, food writer and Chronicle contributor Linda Furiya moved from San Francisco to Beijing to follow her then-boyfriend. She had no idea that during the next several years, her path would take her back and forth across the Pacific Ocean on a quest to find love, contentment and ultimately, herself. In How to Cook a Dragon, Furiya offers an extremely candid and detailed look into her life both in China and the United States during that time, with anecdotes about the people she met, the food she ate and cooked, and the lessons she learned. To punctuate the stories, Furiya includes recipes at the end of each chapter - a corn, pine nut and bell pepper side dish, for example, that she ate during her first duck dinner in Beijing, or the steamed whole fish she learned how to make at a cooking school in Shanghai." --San Francisco Chronicle

Review

"Linda Furiya tackles the challenges of being a Japanese American woman and journalist living in China with her pen, her wok and her indomitable spirit. How to Cook a Dragon is a personal journey, through a land at a crossroads if its history. It's a poignant tale with many layers of textures and flavors--much like an elaborate Chinese banquet. Indeed, the best way to slay the cultural dragon is by cooking it."
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; Original edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158005255X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580052559
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,932,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Linda Furiya's first food memoir, "Bento Box in the Heartland" was a telling account of the hardships she faced as a minority growing up in middle America. Her honest and revealing stories about crossing cultures between her family's Japanese customs and her friends' and classmates' perspectives were unique and thought-provoking. When I picked up her second food memoir, "How to Cook a Dragon", about her time in China, I wondered how this new memoir would compare to her first. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, where Furiya's first book revealed much about her childhood, her second addresses adult issues that are that much more difficult to deal with when halfway across the world, in a country with a foreign language and culture. "How to Cook a Dragon" is one of the most honest China memoirs I've read. For anyone who has lived abroad without an established support network, "How to Cook a Dragon" will resonate well. The book will also be enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in China or who has taken a gamble with love. Like "Bento Box", the recipes at the end of the book are a nice feature--delicious and not too difficult to prepare. As such, the reader should beware: don't read on an empty stomach unless the ingredients in the recipes are close at hand.
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Format: Paperback
In the followup to the lovely Bento Box in the Heartland, Linda Furiya takes the reader on a journey through her eye opening experiences living in Beijing and Shanghai. The book is a soulful examination of culture and expectations (what's it like to be American, of Japanese heritage, in a country where everbody assumes you're just like them?), a frank exploration of love and relationships, and a celebration of the people -- and the food -- of China.

A wonderful accomplishment and an entertaining read.
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Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, which I relate to as a former expatriate. My guess is that some of the less favorable reviews are from people who don't share that experience with the author. I thought the writing was descriptive, engaging, and unique in the use of food as part of the chronology. I remember many of my own life experiences in the context of special meals and restaurants. It's not necessarily the food itself, but who you are with and where you are at in your life experience that has the potential to make this memorable. Opportunities for personal growth often come when we are removed from our usual element and find ourselves in places or situations that challenges us. The author does of fine job of presenting her own experience in a way that should give many people insight into their own lives and relationships. The thoughtful reader will gain insight from the author's experience and be richer for it.
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Format: Paperback
Linda Furiya is understandably hesitant when her boyfriend, working in Beijing, asks her to abandon her life in the States and come to China with him. But she decides to dive in, and ends up spending the next several years of her life in Beijing and Shanghai, where she learns Mandarin, pursues her dream of being a freelance writer, and above all, eats.

And while the local cuisine is a central concern for her (each chapter ends with a recipe), Furiya lets her memoir range far beyond her most recent meal. She deals with the stress of being a Japanese-American in China, where she is continually taken for a Chinese and expected to speak Mandarin; she describes the ups and downs of leaving everything she knows to move to a foreign country; and she captures her tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, Eric.

Furiya's style is not impeccable. Her word choice can leave something to be desired, and her metaphors are sometimes strained. But she won me over with her vulnerability in describing her relationship; she does not spare herself when she analyzes the mistakes she made and her growing distance from the person she wanted to be.

"How to Cook a Dragon" says a bit about cooking, and a bit about "the sleeping dragon," China, but these things are ultimately viewed through their association with Furiya's life, an angle that works well to broaden the book's appeal beyond just foodies or Sinophiles. This memoir is not perfect, but the author's warmth and honesty shine through.

~
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