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The Food and Cooking of China: An Exploration of Chinese Cuisine in the Provinces and Cities of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (Wiley Culinary Journeys) Paperback – February 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although Halvorsen (Catering Like a Pro) has done her homework on Chinese cuisine, history and even philosophy, her chatty, uneven account reads like an enthusiastic but circumscribed school report. After sketching China's provinces and their culinary characteristics, Halvorsen spends most of these pages relating her own trip to China (she visited all five provinces, as well as Hong Kong and Taipei, Taiwan), describing her pleasant experiences in the series of Sheraton hotels and with tourist organizations. The 100 recipes garnered from Chinese chefs punctuate the day-by-day travelogue and, while tantalizing (Lobster Cantonese, sauteed with black beans, garlic and ginger) and sometimes obscure (Shredded Chicken and Snake Soup), for the most part are too briefly explained to do credit to their complexity. Herbal specialties, vegetarian recipes and yum cha (dumplings and finger foods served with tea) receive their own quick chapters. Overall, this effort is too confusing to introduce Chinese cuisine, too breezy to satisfy aficionados.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Don't expect another Chinese cookbook with this title: far richer than its 100 selected recipes is its attention to Chinese culinary history which examines the changing foods and traditions of the nation. Halvorsen's notes from her recent culinary tour of the country pairs authentic regional dishes with observations on Chinese provincial differences. -- Midwest Book Review

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Product Details

  • Series: Wiley Culinary Journeys
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (January 18, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471110558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471110552
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,602,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Jack on July 14, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Behind this book is a great concept - do a culinary tour of China, write up your experiences, and include 100 authentic recipes gathered on the road. And so I bought it with great anticipation. Well, the result has things to commend it, and I want to like it. But there are just two things preventing me from liking it a lot more, one annoying, the other, odious.

The author, Francine Halvorsen travels to a handful of cities (she does not venture into the countryside) and meets with mainly professional catering-type people. We do learn some interesting things about the cuisine, but if you expect a colourful portrait of how people cook and eat in China, you won't find it here.

So what is annoying about the book? The present tense, mock diary-style, used by the author. Bad choice. Perhaps a magazine article in the present tense would be OK, but in my experience it takes a very fine writer to pull this off book-length. Now the odious: Halvorsen could have journeyed the Silk Road, instead she followed the Sheraton Circuit. It appears the author's tour was sponsored by China Airlines and the Sheraton Hotel group. That's fine if you want to go that route; maybe. But please have some subtlety about it! Pages of blatant advertorial on the splendours of airline food, and endless interviews with Sheraton managers and chefs damage Halvoren's credibility.

There is a useful glossary of terms in English and Hanyu Pinyin, though some may be of dubious accuracy. The author has done sufficient research, but is let down by the quickie feel of the actual trip and the sloppy work at the back of the book.
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0 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. feldman on December 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you're having trouble getting past the combination plate, this book will teach your palate how to tickle. I've tried three recipes and look forward to the next as soon as my internist gives the okay. Two chopsticks up!
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