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I heartily agree with you about Fushcia Dunlop. I have her cookbook on Sichuan recipes that are incredibly thorough but i'm embarassed to say that i've not had the opportunity to try them.

I also attended a talk last year where Fuschcia was one of the speakers and she told us this story. A few yrs back she took a group of Sichuanese chefs to LA for a cooking demonstration/exhibition. During the 3 days of the demonstration, the Californians served their usual lunch food including salad. By the 3rd day the Sichuan chefs told her that they could not eat the food anymore, especially the barbaric raw vegetables!! They knew that Westerners were barbaric, just weren't prepared for the shocking fact that Westerners actually don't cook their food!

We laughed at this anecdote, but it is a very good example of perceptions and misconceptions!


I really enjoyed her book and she is so interesting to listen to live too. I went to a talk she gave sometime in April this year and she told us the same story Shorty mentions above - which I think is also in her book. I loved the fact that she identified TEXTURE as the issue most westerners have with Chinese food, as that is so true!!


I read Shark's Fin earlier in the year and really enjoyed it. So much so I bought her Sichuan cookbook and have the Hunan one on my Amazon wish list.

Helen Yuet Ling Pang

Totally agree. I've just reviewed it after meeting Fuchsia at the British Guild of Food Writers awards party where we were both shortlisted (the post will be up in a few days). I spent a couple of years in Beijing in the 90s and so it was particularly interesting to read about her experiences.


I loved Shark's Fin as well. It really takes you back to those moments when you are trying things for the first time in a foreign land. I've also recently read "Untangling My Chopsticks", which I found to be like a Japanese, tea kaiseki version of Shark's Fin.


Shorty - you should cook from the book. Best. Mapo. Dofu. Ever. Very authentic.
Dunlop wrote that story up a few years ago for the New Yorker -- it was a great read. Learned that while living in China: don't try to impress Chinese foodie friends with your best Western dishes, bec it's often all lost in translation.

Ming - yes, her focus on the textural element of Chinese cuisine was brilliant.
It's so true.

Helen - Congrats on the shortlisting. I wasn't 100% on the book but very nearly. I found the Sichuan and Hunan chapters to be the best reads.

Marie - thanks for the recommendation. I'll check that one out.

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