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Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China Hardcover – July 14, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chinese-American journalist Lin-Liu's delightful mixture of memoir and cookbook records her years living and working in Shanghai and Beijing, when she attended a vocational cooking school and discovered a passion for Chinese cooking and culture. Growing up in the U.S. to Taiwan-born parents, the author admits feeling alienated from her heritage when she first moved to China in 2000; a graduate of an American journalism school, she eventually became the food editor at TimeOut Beijing. Moving between Shanghai and Beijing, she begins her account with her frustrating yet ultimately rewarding study at the Hualian Cooking School in Beijing, where she apprenticed to one of the school's instructors, Chairman Wang, an old-style cook raised during the Cultural Revolution, who taught the author the rudiments of chopping, shopping and how to pass the cooking exam. Despite the flimsy certificate, bias against women working in professional kitchens and the reluctance to hire foreigners, Lin-Liu found work at Chef Zhang's noodle stall serving migrant workers and at the popular dumpling house Xian'r Lao Man; she later snagged a plum internship at Jereme Leung's upscale Shanghai restaurant, Whampoa Club. Incorporating stories of many of the Chinese she worked alongside (and their recipes), as well as trips to the MSG factory in Henan or to the rice-growing Guangxi province, Lin-Liu offers a thoroughgoing, spirited celebration of overcoming cultural barriers. (July)
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"Lin-Liu is a charming guide to modern China and its kaleidoscopic cuisine." (People)

"a delicately crafted steamed dumpling of a book. ... Serve the People is the sort of happy-go-lucky, multicultural, foodie type of writing that readers (and publishers) love. It''s peppered with delicious descriptions, authentic recipes, humorous anecdotes and all the goodness of a young woman who finds her way in life, and even falls in love." (International Herald Tribune)

"A wonderfully funny and fascinating look at one of the world's great food cultures." (Peter Hessler)

"A mouthwatering tale of the thriving culinary scene in today's China ... top-rated by ZAGAT." (Nina and Tim Zagat)

"Set against the backdrop of China''s booming capitalist economy, Jen Lin-Liu's memoir is deliciously authentic. And what a cast of characters! I loved this book." (Jan Wong)

"Jen Lin-Liu gives a wonderfully vivid picture of Chinese society along with its cuisine." (Jung Chang)

"The finest book on Chinese food - how it is cooked and eaten and why it matters - in decades." (Ed Gargan)

"A humorous and insightful look at China through its most famous export: its cuisine." (Ian Johnson)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (July 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151012911
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151012916
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 7.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #983,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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on August 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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on October 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
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on June 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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