30 January 2009

Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey through China

Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through ChinaHere's another book about Chinese food, this time by a Chinese-American author in China. I've read a lot of books about Chinese food in the last year and I can't say this one really stands out from the rest, even though it is good. Jen Lin-Liu mostly writes about her experiences in cooking school in Beijing, then in a noodle shop in Beijing, then in a high-end restaurant in Shanghai, then a short section at the end on hutong cooking. There are a couple of brief mentions of some other regions of China, but the focus of the book is unquestionably Beijing and Shanghai, which was disappointing to me.

The book is very readable though, and I did enjoy the noodle shop section. It did seem a bit disorganized- the recipes all of a sudden pop up almost in the middle of paragraphs, it seemed. I would have preferred the recipes to be at the end of the chapters. And I would have preferred more geographic diversity. Almost the entire section on Shanghai was written about a restaurant that almost no Chinese could afford to eat in.

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper remains best book I've read on Chinese food.

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