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Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper


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This is the story of an English girl who went to China to learn the language, but whose love of food led her down a very different path...

About the Author

Fuchsia Dunlop was the first Westerner to train as a chef at China's Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine, and she has been researching Chinese culinary culture for more than a decade. She is the author of two acclaimed cookery books, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook- Recipes from Hunan Province and Sichuan Cookery, and was named 'Food Journalist of the Year' by the British Guild of Food Writers in 2006. Fuchsia writes for numerous publications including Gourmet, Saveur, The Financial Times and Time Out Magazine, and appears as a guest chef and Chinese food expert on radio and television.


Gourmet and Saveur magazine writer Dunlop (Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook) first traveled to China in 1992, unprepared for the "gastronomical assaults" that ensued. From then on, because it would be rude to leave food untouched on her plate, she vowed to eat whatever food she was offered--whether it was mixed vegetables or frog casserole and stir-fried snake--though to do so was often risky. With provocative chapter titles such as "Only Barbarians Eat Salad," "The Hungry Dead," and "Chanel and Chickens' Feet," this book does not disappoint. Readers are taken on a culinary journey throughout the various regions and provinces of China and are treated to recipes at the end of each chapter. Back home in England, Dunlop finds herself hesitant to eat a caterpillar that made its way into her steamed vegetables. Dare she cross that cultural boundary of eating an insect in the Western world? Dunlop's latest is a fascinating look at Chinese food and customs. Recommended for all libraries.--Nicole Mitchell, Univ. of Alabama Lib., Birmingham Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Food writer Dunlop is better known in the U.K., where her comprehensive volumes on Sichuanese and Hunanese cuisine carved out her niche and eventually became contemporary classics. Turning to personal narrative through the backstory and consequences of her fascination with China, she produces an autobiographical food-and-travel classic of a narrowly focused but rarefied order. Dunlop's initial 1992 trip to Sichuan proved so enthralling that she later obtained a year's residential study scholarship in the provincial capital, Chengdu. There, her enrollment in the local Institute of Higher Cuisine, a professional chef's program, created a cultural exchange program of a specialized kind. The research for and success of her resulting cookbooks permitted Dunlop to return to China in a more experienced role as chef and writer; that led to this reflective memoir, which probes into the author's search for kitchens in the Forbidden City as well as the people and places of remote West China. One key to this supple and affectionate book is its time frame: by arriving in China in the middle of vast economic upheavals, Dunlop explored and experienced the country and its culture as it was transforming into a postcommunist communism. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

The best writer in the West - and perhaps in the world - on Chinese food -- Bee Wilson
Britain's most informed Sichuan food expert -- Terry Durack * Independent *
I, for one, am grateful to be living in an era when I can read Fuchsia Dunlop's erudite writing. Her latest, Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper is filled with personal and humorous observations that make for fascinating reading. It is not only a memoir about food but also of culture from one of the world's oldest civilisations. -- Ken Hom
Fuchsia Dunlop is not just one of the world's experts on Chinese regional food, but a beautiful writer too. You can almost smell the Sichuan pepper and fish fragrant aubergines wafting off every page. She captures Sichuan life with a keen eye and elegant pen, at a time where China was on the cusp of opening up to the West. It's as evocative and eloquent picture of Chinese food and culture as you'll ever read, quietly erudite yet utterly addictive. -- Tom Parker Bowles
Fuchsia has a rare ability to convey an encyclopaedic knowledge of Chinese cuisine in a compelling and totally delicious way; this is a great book -- Heston Blumenthal

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