14 January 2009

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper

Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in ChinaI don't know where I got the recommendation for this book, but it turned out to be a wonderful surprise. This is an excellent book on food in China from the perspective of a British woman who knows China. Fuschia Dunlop speaks fluent Mandarin (how refreshing to read a book on China written by someone who speaks and even writes Mandarin) and is an expert on Chinese food.

I was completely convinced that I loved this book when there was actually a chapter on Xinjiang. Dunlop also talks briefly about other western provinces like Tibet and Gansu, although the focus is definitely farther east. But any author that actually goes to Kashgar is pretty good in my opinion.

One of the major topics of the book is Dunlop's evolving eating habits. She starts off determined to eat everything and learns to love a variety of interesting food (she realizes this when she's eating with her parents and sees them struggling to eat things that she loves). But different things, such as vegan friends, various Chinese food scares, and concerns over endangered species all change her perspective.

It was also interesting to read about her feelings about China. I almost felt sad near the end, until I read the second to last chapter. And you can't miss the last chapter.

My only complaint, and it really didn't bother me, is that there were a few times that the book seemed to drag just a tiny bit. So little that you almost didn't notice it, but it was there. But it really didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh. This one does sound good. I'll have to find it somewhere. (You do read the most obscure books sometimes...)

    Wait... I just checked. It's at my library. YAY! It's on my TBR list now...