CDT Bookshelf: Fuschia Dunlop’s “Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper”

Fuschia Dunlop was the first Westerner to attend the Institute of Higher Cuisine and has written several books about China’s culture. Her latest book, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, is a culinary memoir of her journeys through China. From Serious Eats:

The book is an evocative and emotionally resonant account of her visits to China, from the time she first went as a student in 1994 to the many trips she took after to research for her two cookbooks. In traveling around the country, Dunlop discovered just how much her feelings about Chinese food had evolved in tandem with how the cultural fabric of China had evolved in the post-Mao era.

As this go-go, free enterprise period unfolded, Dunlop became profoundly aware and disturbed by all the attendant environmental problems and food safety issues that accompanied all this “progress.” She found herself questioning her love for and commitment to Chinese food culture. Dunlop’s restless quest to make peace with a rapidly evolving China is at the heart of her journey and this book. I won’t give away the ending, but sweet and sour is an apt description for the conclusion.

Listen to Dunlop talk about her book in Beijing via City Weekend. Also, read an article by Dunlop about a restaurateur in Sichuan, from the New Yorker. See Dunlop’s recipe for Dan Dan noodles, via Chowhound.

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