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Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China Paperback – August 24, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“I didn’t realize what a self-satisfied, Western-hemisphere food snob I was until I read Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper. . . . This is not just a smart memoir about cross-cultural eating but one of the most engaging books of any kind I’ve read in years.” (Celia Barbour - O, The Oprah Magazine)
More About the Author
Fuchsia's articles have appeared in many publications, including The Financial Times, The New Yorker, Gourmet, Saveur, and The Observer. In 2012 she won the James Beard Foundation Award for writing on food culture and travel.
Fuchsia's favourite Chinese recipe is Fish-Fragrant Eggplants (yu xiang qie zi).
For more information, visit Fuchsia's website, www.fuchsiadunlop.com
Top Customer Reviews
Others have already reviewed the book in considerable detail, so I'll just add a few short tidbits that stood out for me in particular ...
* I absolutely adore Ms. Dunlop's adventerous spirit. Theodore Roosevelt's famous "man in the arena" speech somes readily to mind.
* I also admire, and heartily agree with, Ms. Dunlop's astute observations regarding certain silly and deeply ingrained western culinary biases ... such as a general dislike or aversion to rubbery textures, bone-in cuts, offal, bitter vegetables, etc. I also share her love for adventerous dining ... and her disapproval of those who conspicuously indulge in endangered species.
* I also deeply appreciate her efforts to not just share her culinary travels, but also her insights, immersive personal experiences, and the socio-political context of her travels ... it greatly helps to humanize the book for the reader. Disappointingly few authors succeed in that vein. Some successful examples (of fully immersive travel memoirs) are Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence", and Joseph Campbell's "Sake and Satori". Both are highly recommended - the latter in particular, for those who enjoy high-brow reading.
My one minor nit with this book are Ms. Dunlop's recipes ... she does a wonderful job in leading up to the recipes themselves in order to give full weight and background to her personal experience and attachment to each (something too few cookbook authors do in their headnotes). However, the recipes themselves are somewhat imprecise in places ...Read more ›
This easy reading book is more travel journal rather then cook book. You follow her step by step as she goes deeper and deeper into the culinary technique, aesthetic and philosophy that makes up Chinese cooking and eating. Besides her kitchen and dinner table encounters, the book also portrays the torrid pace of change that China has undergone this past decade. She covers the major differences between Occidental and Chinese ideas of good eats - freshness, texture/mouth-feel, the idea of what's edible. A very fun read - I finished this book in three nights.
Fuchsia Dunlop, 2008
As the title says, this is not a cookbook or precisely a book on or about food, but a memoir of Fuchsia Dunlop's time in China, with the emphasis on her culinary experiences and endeavors. It covers an eventful -- both for Dunlop and for China -- fifteen years, from her first visit in 1992 to one (hopefully not the last) in 2007. Originally a Chinese region specialist for the BBC, she applied for a fellowship to study in China, with an emphasis on minority cultures, was accepted, and in 1994 showed up at Sichuan University in Chengdu.
She rapidly became inebriated with the vital dining scene in Chengdu, and (to hear her tell it) largely abandoned the ostensible purpose of her studies. Fortunately for Dunlop and us, Sichuan had both a deserved reputation for being slow and casual (things were possible for a foreigner there that would not have been in more modern cities), and a rich and highly developed style of cookery. Far from being the simple blisteringly hot excess of chilis that it has the reputation for in the West, Sichuan cooking as practiced in Chengdu emphasizes a careful balance of flavors and ingredients, with hundreds of unique flavors and textures; no more a one-note anvil of chilis and the lip-numbing Sichuan peppercorn than Indian food is a single all purpose "curry powder" blend.
We have a few chapters devoted to her increasing love affair with Sichuan food and life, and her gradual accomodation to the variety of ingredients, from 'offal' to rabbit heads to insects.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm really enjoying this book, seeing how a westerner becomes acclimatized to the joys of Chinese food and culture. Read morePublished 4 months ago by CCM
Wonderfully well written but by the time I got to the end of this book I felt sick. The bizarre ingredients, the vast excesses in gourmandizing, the causal cruelty with which... Read morePublished 4 months ago by skd
I like cookbooks that I can use the recipes and read with pleasure. I especially one which reveals the culture as you read and or tells the history of the author's interest in the... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Grammy
Like another commentator, I am so horrified by the practice of shark finning--its needless waste of an entire large fish that might actually feed people, the ultimate cruelty and... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Betty Jo McDonald