You too may start to salivate halfway through the introduction to Dunlop's magnificent Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking. Perhaps it begins when she explains xian, "one of the most beautiful words in the Chinese culinary language." It describes an entire range of flavor and sensation, "the indefinable, delicious taste of fresh meat, poultry, and seafood, the scrumptious flavors of a pure chicken soup..." Before you know it you are running headlong into a world of 23 distinct flavors and 56 cooking methods (they are all listed at the end of the book). Sichuan is the place where "barbarian peppers" met up with a natural cornucopia and a literary cooking tradition stretching back to the fifth century A.D. Innovation with cooking technique and new and challenging ingredients remains a hallmark of Sichuan. After describing basic cutting skills and cooking techniques, Dunlop presents her recipes in chapters that include "Noodles, Dumplings, and Other Street Treats"; "Appetizers"; "Meat"; "Poultry"; "Fish"; "Vegetables and Bean Curd"; "Stocks and Soup"; "Sweet Dishes"; and "Hotpot." Yes, you will find Gong Bao (Kung Pao) Chicken with Peanuts--Gong Bao Ji Ding. It's named after a late 19th-century governor of Sichuan, Ding Baozhen, which brought on the wrath of the Cultural Revolution for its imperial associations. Until rehabilitation, the dish was called "fast-fried chicken cubes" or "chicken cubes with seared chilies."
Land of Plenty is literary food writing at its best, as well as a marvelous invitation to new skills and flavors for the home cook. Read it. Cook it. Eat it. And take pleasure in the emerging career of Fuschia Dunlop, a big new voice in the world of food. --Schuyler Ingle
The recipes are so easy to follow.
For vegetarians, I'd recommend borrowing this from the library or friend and copying down the dozen or so relevant recipes (after reading the entire book of course).
I bought this book because I wanted a specialist Sichuan cookery book and because it was already highly recommended.
Ms. Dunlop is one of the best, and best known, non-Chinese writers on the subject and the recipes seem very close to what we get here in Philadelphia at Han Dynasty. Read morePublished 27 days ago by PhillyWill
As of yet, I have not had a chance to try out a lot of the recipes, except for a few of the more simple veggie stir frys that are included. Read morePublished 2 months ago by S. Miller
After cooking every single recipe in this book, I can confidently say that this is probably the best cook book every written. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Zellerback
The real thing here. How long have I waited to get the definite true method for making my favorite Szechuan dishes I enjoyed while living in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Alice B Toklas
I can't say enough great things about this book.
A comprehensive, user-friendly guide to traditional Sichuan cuisine, written with heart and whimsy. Read more
Encyclopaedic. It probably is good I prefer a small well photographed book with a few great recipes to a compendium.Published 5 months ago by Steve Davis