I am a huge and avowed fan of Fuchsia Dunlop. The first of her books which made me aware of her was Shark’s Fin & Sichuan Pepper, subtitled, A sweet-sour memoir of eating in China, then came Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook, recipes from Hunan Province. Here was this young British woman, working for the BBC, deciding she was going to eat everything she was offered in China, and turning out a book which put her in the forefront of British Food Writers. The Sunday Telegraph, in its review of the book said that she was ‘the best writer in the West….on Chinese food.’ Jay Rayner, well known British Food writer says The Food of Sichuan, remains his ‘bible for the subject.’
The Food of Sichuan has recently been published in South Africa. And what a fabulous book it is. She talks first about the story of Sichuanese Cuisine, the kitchen, the larder and the table.
The book is then divided into 14 different divisions containing anything from Tofu, to Hot pots, preserved foods and seasonings and stock. She goes through the 23 flavours of Sichuan, the 56 cooking methods of Sichuan and a brilliant glossary of Chinese Characters.
My mother used to go to the Nanking Restaurant in Paarden Eiland in the 1950s where Mr Ying taught her to cut vegetables, meat etc and to stir fry, so I eat Chinese [mainly Mandarin Food] from a very young age. Later we became more exposed to the other cuisines of China in restaurants in London and Perth Australia.
The really good thing is that in most of our cities now, we have good Chinese stores where you can buy almost anything you need. Don’t forget to pick up a bottle of Plum Wine.
The dishes look fabulous, are easy to cook and of course, just packed with flavour. The photography of the dishes by Yuki Suguira is excellent, you want to climb in and start eating. Other pictures of scenery by Ian Cummings, rice paddies, lotus ponds, buildings and little streetcar eateries all add to the joy.
This is a book I will use often. The rewards in terms of flavour are immense
The Food of Sichuan by Fuschia Dunlop is published by Bloomsbury and distributed in South Africa by Jonathan Ball Publishers.
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