Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper : A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China – Food for Thought

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Food for Thought is a new blog developed by Jain of Once In a Blue Moon and Food with Style. She sees this as “a place where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera……to make a more memorable book review.” I hope you’ll stop by and see what’s happening and what others are reading.

How can you not love a memoir written by the woman who was the first Westerner to train at the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine? Fushia Dunlop’s work at the BBC took her to China in 1992. She returned in 1994 to continue language studies and, as her skills improved, directed her interest to the cooking of Sichuan province. From her first encounters with the fiery food of Sichuan, to her brushes with corruption and greed, she tells a tale that enlightens and entertains and provides one of the best travel narratives I’ve ever read. It’s the story of an English girl who went to China, ate everything that came her way and was surprised by the wonders of the country, its people and its cuisine. Her ability to evoke place and atmosphere place her on a level plane with other literary food writers and her cook books, and this memoir, establish her as an acknowledged expert on the food of China. The best way to catch your interest is to let you see its Table of Contents. While each chapter contains a recipe, you’ll quickly find that this is not a cookbook.


Prologue: The Chinese Eat Everything
1. Mouths That Love Eating
2. Dan Dan Noodles
3. First Kill Your Fish
4. Only Barbarians Eat Salad
5. The Cutting Edge
6. The Root of Tastes
7. The Hungry Dead
8. The Rubber Factory
9. Sickness Enters Through the Mouth
10. Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party
11. Chanel and Chickens’ Feet
12. Feeding the Emperor
13. Guilt and Pepper
14. Journey to the West
15. Of Paw and Bone
16. Scary Crabs
17. A Dream of Red Mansions
Epilogue: The Caterpillar

I dare you to try the hotpot from Guilt and Pepper. The dumplings from The Hungry Dead are delicious, too, but do go easy with the chili oil or you might be. If you love stories of singular and gutsy women, you’ll love Fushia Dunlops’s Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper – A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China.

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