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Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A sweet-sour memoir of eating in China
Award-winning food writer Fuchsia Dunlop went to live in China in 1994, and from the very beginning vowed to eat everything she was offered, no matter how alien and bizarre it seemed to her as a Westerner. In this extraordinary memoir, Fuchsia recalls her evolving relationship with China and its food, from her first rapturous encounter with the delicious cuisine of Sichuan Province, to brushes with corruption, environmental degradation and greed.
In the course of her fascinating journey, Fuchsia undergoes an apprenticeship as a Sichuanese chef; attempts, hilariously, to persuade Chinese people that 'Western food' is neither 'simple' nor 'bland'; and samples a multitude of exotic ingredients, including dogmeat, civet cats, scorpions, rabbit heads and the ovarian fat of the snow frog. But is it possible for a Westerner to become a true convert to the Chinese way of eating? In an encounter with a caterpillar in an Oxfordshire kitchen, Fuchsia is forced to put this to the test.
From the vibrant markets of Sichuan to the bleached landscape of northern Gansu Province, from the desert oases of Xinjiang to the enchanting old city of Yangzhou, this is an unforgettable account of the world's most amazing culinary culture.
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Britain's most informed Sichuan food expert - Independent
The best writer in the West - and perhaps in the world - on Chinese food - Sunday Telegraph
I, for one, am grateful to be living in an era when I can read Fuchsia Dunlop's erudite writing. Her latest, Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper is filled with personal and humorous observations that make for fascinating reading. It is not only a memoir about food but also of culture from one of the world's oldest civilisations. - Ken Hom
Fuchsia Dunlop is not just one of the world's experts on Chinese regional food, but a beautiful writer too. You can almost smell the Sichuan pepper and fish fragrant aubergines wafting off every page. She captures Sichuan life with a keen eye and elegant pen, at a time where China was on the cusp of opening up to the West. It's as evocative and eloquent picture of Chinese food and culture as you'll ever read, quietly erudite yet utterly addictive. - Tom Parker Bowles
Fuchsia has a rare ability to convey an encyclopaedic knowledge of Chinese cuisine in a compelling and totally delicious way; this is a great book - Heston Blumenthal
A journey from the pleasure of the tongue to the soul of a culture - Xiaolu Guo
An insightful, entertaining, scrupulously reported exploration of China's foodways and a swashbuckling memoir... What makes it a distinguished contribution to the literature of gastronomy is its demonstration . . . that food is not a mere reflection of culture but a potent shaper of cultural identity. - Dawn Drzal
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About the Author
Fuchsia Dunlop was the first Westerner to train as a chef at China's Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine, and she has been researching Chinese culinary culture for more than a decade. She is the author of two acclaimed cookery books, Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province and Sichuan Cookery, and was named 'Food Journalist of the Year' by the British Guild of Food Writers in 2006. Fuchsia writes for numerous publications including Gourmet, Saveur, The Financial Times and Time Out Magazine, and appears as a guest chef and Chinese food expert on radio and television.