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A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family Paperback – Bargain Price, February 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is a New York-based writer who has covered fashion, retail, and home design (and written the occasional food story) for the Wall Street Journal. Before that she was the senior fashion writer for InStyle magazine and the senior arts writer for the Baltimore Sun. Born and raised in Singapore, she studied journalism at Northwestern University. Her work has appeared in the New York Times and Marie Claire, among many other publications.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Voice; Original edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401341284
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401341282
  • ASIN: B005IUH8NE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan is the New York City-based author of "A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family" (Hyperion, 2011). She is working on her second book, a novel, and is the editor of "Singapore Noir," a fiction anthology that Akashic published in 2014.

She has covered fashion, retail and home design (and written the occasional food story) for the Wall Street Journal. Before that she was the senior fashion writer for In Style magazine and senior arts, entertainment and fashion writer for the Baltimore Sun. Her stories have also appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire and The Washington Post among other publications.

She has been an artist in residence at Yaddo, where she completed "A Tiger in the Kitchen," Hawthornden Castle, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and the Studios of Key West. A native of Singapore, Tan was awarded major grants in support of her work in 2011 and 2012 by the National Arts Council of Singapore. She has spoken on memoir and food writing at various book festivals, including the Brooklyn Book Festival, Miami Book Fair, Shanghai International Literary Festival, Singapore Writers Festival, Wordstock and Hong Kong International Literary Festival, as well as the Museum of Chinese in America and Asia Society.

Born and raised in Singapore, she crossed the ocean to go to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., after realizing that a) she wanted to be a journalist and b) if she was going to be as mouthy in her work as she was in real life, she'd better not do it in Singapore. Unsure of whether she would remain in the U.S. after college, she interned in places as disparate as possible. This led her to hanging out with Harley Davidson enthusiasts in Topeka, Kan., interviewing gypsies in about their burial rituals in Portland, Ore., covering July 4 in Washington, D.C., and chronicling the life and times of the Boomerang Pleasure Club, a group of Italian-American men that had been getting together to cook, play cards and gab about women for decades in their storefront "clubhouse" in Chicago.

She started her full-time journalism career helping out on the cops beat in Baltimore -- training that would prove to be essential in her future fashion reporting. Both, it turns out, are like war zones. The only difference is, people dress differently.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sheila A. Dechantal on February 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cheryl Lu-Lein Tan grew up in Singapore with no interest in the family traditional cooking that surrounded her youth. Cheryl's dreams were bigger than that. At the age of 18 she left home and family for America to become the fashion writer she had always hoped to. Yet in her 30's, Cheryl began to long for that taste of Singapore, the dishes that defined her childhood. Was it too late to learn the secrets that surrounded her youth and now were embedded within the kitchens of her Grandmothers and Aunts?

A memoir of not only the beauty of tradition and food but also the strength found in unlocking the stories of the past.

In this mouth-watering sensation of a book - I learned about the history of Singapore flavors to the point that I felt as though I could almost smell the scents of fried crab, peppery pork rib broth, and Hainanese Chicken Rice...

During one trip back to Singapore when Cheryl has decided to actively pursue learning more about her Singapore heritage in cooking and offers to help make the traditional Pineapple tarts, I had to laugh when she walks into the kitchen to help to find not one or two pineapples for the tart making - but seventy. The plan was to make 3,000 tarts.

Written and told by Cheryl Lu-Lein Tan herself, I enjoyed the humorous style of writing and had to laugh because she sounds a little like me - biting off more than she can chew (pun intended) such as traveling back and forth to Singapore to capture the family traditions, and in the midst of it all taking on the Bread Bakers Apprentice Challenge which was an on-line challenge to bake your way through every recipe in this book.... which includes triumphant stories "Bagels that were perfection right out of the oven!", as well as not so triumphant stories.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Baguio Boy on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My one and only visit to Singapore was 30 years ago, and two distinct memories from that visit continued to be the sole basis of my overall impression about this intriguing country -- tall buildings and the ban on chewing gum. I knew little about its history, culture and food - until I read Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's "A Tiger in the Kitchen."

When I started reading the book, I expected to see pages and pages of recipes - linear listings of ingredients and cooking directions. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to read about poignant accounts of family relationships, ethnic roots, and interesting facets of a culture that seamlessly intersects with those of its Malay and Asian counterparts - all told within the confines of kitchen chatter, and within the delightful context of, what else -- food. In addition, narrations of long-held traditions surrounding marriage proposals and holidays like the Lunar New provide some humorous moments in the book.

I learned most of my cooking from my late mother, just watching her in the kitchen. She had no recipe books or cheat sheets, just the skill and knowledge probably passed on from my grandmother and my grandmother's mother. So it was a personal relief for me to read in Tan's book that the best dishes are probably the ones that are passed on by word of mouth and practice, judged not by measuring cups or kitchen timers, but by intuition and the pouring of one's heart into the cooking. "Agak-agak," as the book suggests.

You will enjoy reading the book once for its memoirs, and you will want to keep it among your treasured kitchen library collection. You will keep going back for the memories . . . and the recipes imbedded in them!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I spent many happy hours reading this fascinating, funny, heart-warming book. Tiger in the Kitchen is a great choice for anyone interested in Singapore, travel, culture, families or food.

Like Amy Chua who wrote Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan was born in the Year of the Tiger which is supposed to make her dynamic and aggressive. It is certainly true in Tan's case. As a child in Singapore she was always ambitious and never interested in girl pursuits like cooking, but her fondest memories of growing up all involve eating. When Tan was eighteen she defied her family's wishes by traveling far from home to study journalism at an American college, but once there she found she missed the foods of Singapore. Their multilayered flavors were hard to duplicate in America. The British had established a busy trading port at Singapore early in the nineteenth century so its food are unique with influences coming from all over, including China, Malaysia, India and Europe.

After college Tan stayed in America and in the fall 2008 when the financial crisis in full swing she was working at the Wall Street Journal. Because she covered fashion and retail, her days were spent on devastating stories of closures and bankruptcies. Many of her New York friends were losing their jobs. By early 2009 Tan had migraines so intense her doctor thought she might be having a stoke and she knew she needed a change. With Chinese New Year approaching, Tan's aunts in Singapore would be baking up a storm so Tan decided to take a break, fly to Singapore, and learn how to make the pineapple tarts she had loved as a child.

Cooking with her aunties just whet her appetite for more.
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